Rider development crucial: Fujiwara

PETALING JAYA: SuperSports 600cc ace Katsuaki Fujiwara believes that continued rider development is crucial to helping young Asian riders make the transition to the world championships.

The 2011 Petronas Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) SuperSports 600cc champion said that youngsters needed to be progressive and proactive in their careers by continuously seeking to beat opponents of higher calibre rather than just racing against those at the same level.

But the 30-year-old also cautioned against rushing head-long into the world championships before they are ready.

“There seems to be plenty of rider development programmes in Asia ... that’s the right step,” said Fujiwara, who credited Italian World Superbike rider Pierfrancesco Chili for inspiring him when he was a rookie rider.

“Riders must grab every opportunity that comes their way. But a young rider’s progress must be carefully monitored. An ill-prepared rider will not be able to get the expected results and this will be disastrous to his career.

“I believe in the limitless potential of Asian riders and hope that all parties will work together to ensure that these young riders are given proper support at every level of their career.”

The BEET Kawasaki Racing rider will next race in the fourth round of the ARRC at the Suzuka International Circuit in Japan this weekend.

“My job is to win races for Kawasaki. But, at the same time, it is my responsibility to help the next generation of riders. It will be my legacy to them, having spent 13 years on the track,” said Fujiwara, who is ranked fourth in the SuperSports 600cc standings.

“That’s why I’m enjoying my participation in the Asian Championship, even though winning the title is getting harder and harder in recent years. The championship has a strong mix of riders, including those who are able to go directly into the World Championships.”

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