Final Round 6 of 2014 – Losail International Circuit, Qatar
PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship
FUJIWARA ANNOUNCES ARRC EXIT
Seasoned SuperSports 600cc contender, Katsuaki Fujiwara stunned the paddock as he announced he will retire from the PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship at the end of the season ahead of this weekend’s grand finale at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar.
At 39-years old, Fujiwara has decided to hang his racing boots having spent the last four seasons competing in the Asian Championship, bringing an end to one of the most decorated character the sport has ever seen.
However, Fujiwara revealed he would still be involved in the industry by taking up a coaching position with Kawasaki 2015 onwards and help develop young riders in the All Japan Championship and the Asian Championship.
The BEET Kawasaki Racing ace will bow out of the premiere class having clinched the SuperSports 600cc title in his maiden year in 2011, followed by two runner-ups finishes in 2012 and 2013 behind Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman respectively.
PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship talks to the man:
ARRC: We are deeply saddened by your decision to retire from racing. What is your main motivation behind this move?
Fujiwara: The timing is just perfect for me. I will be hitting my 40s next year which is considered quite old for this sport. Don’t get me wrong; my fighting spirit has never faded and I am still competitive but this day would have come eventually. Best to quit now while I am still on top rather than later when I can’t perform.
ARRC: Judging by how you say it, the thought of retiring has been playing in your thoughts for quite some time now. Was it a tough decision?
Fujiwara: The decision has been there for quite some time and yes, it was a tough one to make because racing has and will always be my passion. But this sport is a young man’s game and sooner or later I would have to give up my seat. Like it or not – this is the reality.
However I dont have any regrets leaving. I have raced for more than two decades, travelled the world, met a lot of interesting people, competed with some of the world’s best riders, went through unimaginable high and lows and even won championships. I have gained so much throughout my career as a racer and I will forever be thankful that.
ARRC: Many consider you the catalyst of change in the ARRC. With your departure, how do you think the championship will progress?
Fujiwara: For sure it will get bigger and better! As it is, the competition level is very high. Just look at Autopolis and Suzuka where seven to eight riders fighting for the podium – quality racing! Better yet, a majority of these riders are still young and they have the potential to go far in this industry.
ARRC: So what’s next for you?
Fujiwara: Part of me just want to relax, enjoy the finer things in life but I feel the need to give back to the industry and training the next generation of riders is my way of doing just that. Hopefully I can pass down my knowledge to these young hopefuls and help achieve their dreams. What better way to do this with Kawasaki, a well-respected motorcycle brand around the world. In other words, this coaching gig is something personally I’m very satisfied about taking on and I am really excited about this new chapter.
ARRC: Lastly, you are in a good position to win your second SuperSports 600cc title this weekend, although you lead Yuki Ito by a very slim margin. What’s your take?
Fujiwara: I approach the final round like every other race, to give a 110 percent and win! It would be a great way to end my career as a racer. However I don’t expect to have an easy run here (Losail), not with five other riders in contention for the title.
PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship.