Aoyama Pays Tribute to Daijiro Kato, Changes MotoGP Number

Hiroshi Aoyama will switch to MotoGP racing next season, but he will not take with him the #4 he took to the world title in the 250cc class last season. The Japanese rider will have to change bike numbers for his maiden campaign in the premier motorcycle class, as the #4 is already in use by former Scot Racing and current Honda works rider Andrea Dovizioso.

Since he'll now have to switch to a different number, Aoyama had no second thoughts when making his choice. Being the first Japanese rider to win a world title in the 250cc category of the FIM championship after the late Daijiro Kato, Aoyama decided to pay a tribute to his former countryman and choose the #7.

Kato was widely perceived as one of the biggest motorcycle racing talents in Japan earlier in the decade, after he took a dominating title in the 250cc class in 2001. In his first season inside the “queen” 500cc class, Kato finished 7th overall for Gresini Honda, scoring his first podium at only his 3rd start in the series.

He went on to suffer a horrible crash in the opening round of the next season, which ultimately led to his death. His #74 bike number was retired from the MotoGP starting the 2003 season. Having used #4 so far, Aoyama admitted he wants to race with the other available number until the end of his MotoGP career, #7.

My favourite number is Daijiro Kato's #74. This year in 250 I was using the #4, from Kato's number, and next year in MotoGP I will use the #7. I will keep the #7 from now on,” Kato told

Aoyama won the 250cc title ahead of Spaniard Hector Barbera last season, while riding for Scot Racing. His first steps in MotoGP will be secured by Emmi Caffe Latte, as Scot Racing already announced their withdrawal from the premier class at the end of 2009.
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