In this season that saw Nakasuga shooting for the coveted third consecutive championship in the pinnacle class, he emerged the winner in a fierce battle with rivals Kosuke Akiyoshi (Honda) and Takumi Takahashi (Honda) to take the opening round, the Suzuka 2 and 4 Race, and get the season off to a great start.
In the next round at Autopolis, he took a fall and suffered injuries before the qualifying, leaving him to start the race from 6th position. Although the victory in the next day’s race went to rival Takahashi, Nakasuga was able to beat out Kazuki Watanabe (Kawasaki) by a slight margin to claim 2nd place. Then, in round three at Twin Ring Motegi, he finished 2nd again to take him into the fourth round at SUGO holding 2nd place in the season standings. However, in bad weather there at SUGO he was only able to finish in 6th place, which left him to enter the second half of the season in 2nd place in the standings, 10 points behind the leader, Takahashi.
However, Nakasuga’s comeback was set to begin. In the next rounds at Autopolis and the Okayama International circuits, he scored consecutive wins that catapulted him to the top of the standings as the point leader going into the final round, the MFJ-GP at Suzuka. Here, Nakasuga ran to the win from pole position in the first race and finished 2nd in the second race to claim his third consecutive championship, while also becoming the first rider in history to win five championship titles in Japan’s pinnacle road racing class.
“In order to win my third consecutive title, I thought that a strong start from the first round would be very important, and when I was able to win the opening race, the Suzuka 2 and 4, I thought I had gotten a good flow going. But, Takumi Takahashi was also improving, and he took consecutive wins in the second round at Autopolis and the third round at Twin Ring Motegi. I knew I had to do something to get the flow going my way again, but the bad weather in the next round at SUGO threw my pace off. To tell the truth, I thought I had lost my rhythm at that point. Still, the entire team was working together so hard this season and I was able to come back and ride a wave that brought me three consecutive wins, in the series’ second race at Autopolis, at Okayama International, and then in the first race at the MFJ-GP at Suzuka. In the last race, there was a change in the track conditions, and the tension was reaching a peak in me, but I was determined to do anything to win the title. Thanks to the support of the fans, my team and everyone else who supported me, with all kinds of support I was able to win my third consecutive title and the fifth of my career. I want to thank everyone for cheering me on throughout this year.”
Champion of All Japan GP500 class from 1983 to 1985
“This was a flawless, well-earned third consecutive title. Congratulations! And, I’m so proud to see that Nakasuga has won three consecutive titles as a Yamaha rider. Because of the fall he took in the pre-season test that left him not in his best condition, the early stages of the series must have been difficult for him. Still, from mid-season through to the final round, he performed so well that I could watch his racing with assurance. His strength as a rider really shone throughout the season. Of all the riders in the All Japan championships, Nakasuga truly stands above the rest in terms of both his strategy and riding technique. I believe this is because of the dramatic growth he has managed to achieve through the experience of working as the development rider for the premier YZR-M1 race machine and actually participating in MotoGP races. Also, we can’t forget the contribution of his dedicated team in the areas of machine development and set-up, etc. In this sense, it has truly been a victory by the entire team. I really hope Nakasuga will go on now to take up the challenge of winning a fourth consecutive title and continue to grow as a model for younger riders to aspire to.”
Champion of All Japan GP500 class from 1987 to 1989
“When Nakasuga made his first attempt to get a third consecutive championship title in 2010, a crash when he was pushing hard caused him to and lose his chance for the title. But, even then I believed that he was a rider who would someday get that record. I feel like now that time has finally come. I know from my own experience that winning three consecutive titles is an extremely difficult thing to accomplish. It is not enough just to be fast. You need the mental strength and toughness to keep up your motivation to win and to overcome the pressure. I believe that Nakasuga has accomplished this feat because he is a rider with the kind of speed and strength it takes. I want to give my heartfelt congratulations. I also want to see Nakasuga go on to new heights. Because, with his experience as development rider for the YZR-M1, the MotoGP machine, he has the potential to become an even faster and stronger rider. I hope he won’t be satisfied with three consecutive titles but go on to a fourth and then a fifth; I look forward to a number of new records from him.”
Executive Vice President and Chief General Manager of Technology Center of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.
“I want to say congratulations to Katsuyuki Nakasuga for winning the championship. Amid the pressure of competing for his third consecutive title, I’m sure that the season was not an easy one for him. But like last year, he never gave up and continued to race with strength of will and determination until he succeeded in this great achievement he had set his sights on. I believe that seeing Nakasuga’s serious dedication has brought real Kando to many fans. Having now achieved the great feat of winning three consecutive titles in the pinnacle class of Japanese road racing like the great riders Tadahiko Taira and Yoshihiko Fujiwara before him, I feel that we have just seen another rider join the ranks of the few who will be recognized as legends. Now we look forward to seeing Nakasuga go on to be the first rider ever to win four consecutive titles in the pinnacle class, and we also look forward to his achievements as a MotoGP machine development rider. Finally, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the fans who have given their warm support throughout the season. Thank you all.”