2016 All Japan Motocross Championship

  • All Japan Motocross Championship Round 9, MFJ GP
  • IA1
  • Date: 23 October, 2016
  • Venue: Sportsland SUGO

Arai Finishes 2nd Overall for the Season as Tanaka Concludes Emotional Farewell Race

#8 Takase Tanaka #331 Hiroaki Arai #4 Makoto Ogata

Report

Hiroaki Arai (IA1/7th/7th)

 Normally at the final round we have riders from overseas come and liven things up, but this time it was not only that. This would be retirement race for three top riders (Takase Tanaka, Yoshitaka Atsuta (Suzuki) and Yoshiki Kitai (KTM)), which made it even more special.
 Everybody was really riding with their hearts, which I was able to pick up on when I was out there. Of course I didn't want to lose, but there wasn't a particular spot on the track I could take advantage of to gain ground, and it felt like my race was just spent circulating the track. I just couldn't get into a good rhythm. It isn't that I felt especially bad, but I guess maybe the other riders were just too fast for me.
 My start in the first moto was OK. Coming into the first corner I was in about 3rd. My original plan was to come through the second corner on the outside and jump Osaka (the "big hill") on the left, but the area right in front of the jump had been watered and all the other riders moved across to avoid it. By doing that they blocked my way, so I couldn't get through like I wanted to, which dropped me down to 5th or so after the opening lap. Cole Seely (Honda) was right in front of me, while Akira Narita (Honda) and Kei Yamamoto (Honda) were battling for the lead. I couldn't find a good point to pass in the opening laps and while I was struggling, Yohei Kojima (Suzuki) and Yuu Hirata (Yamaha) came by me. In the middle of the race I tried to follow Atsuta, but he was really going for it. He blocked me a few times and I wasn't riding at my best, so I couldn't pick my lines well and couldn't find a good place to pass. Towards the end I was bar-to-bar with Narita, after he had fallen and dropped down the order. I managed to get away from him and take 7th. Narita, who already had a massive points lead, clinched the title with his result.
 I didn't make my best start in the second moto, so it was Tanaka in 5th and myself in 6th at the beginning. I worked really hard in the opening laps but nobody would let me get past. About 20 minutes into the race Tanaka made a little mistake and I took the opportunity to get by. I couldn't up my pace much after that and I got passed by Kouichi Fukuya (Suzuki) and Ogata before I crossed the line in 7th again.
 More than myself being in bad shape, I think it was more that I just couldn't get into a rhythm. My machine setup, course knowledge, mental state…all of those factors probably had some effect I think. The track was in really good shape. It didn't get as torn up as it usually does here at Sugo, and was actually pretty hard overall. That's why I was able to use the medium tires throughout the weekend.
 Even so, we haven't had weather this nice at Sugo in a long time. The track surface was in really good condition, so there was no need to adjust the suspension between motos. I got a 1-1 finish at Offroad Village in the last round, so I decided to keep that winning machine setup and went out without really changing anything.
 Looking back at this season, I think it's great that I could finish in 2nd overall. I didn't have any huge losses, but I was in a bit of a slump after Round 2. There was a time in the middle of the season that I wasn't totally sure about my setup, and thinking back on it now I feel like I really missed out. The way I dealt with that at the time, and how we worked on the machine during the off season, things like that I'd definitely like to improve for next year.
 Will I run the #2 next year? To me that's Ryan Villopoto's number, so I think I'll give it a miss. I'll stick with my number, #331.

  • #331 Hiroaki Arai
  • #331 Hiroaki Arai

Takase Tanaka (IA1/12th/8th)

 I announced my decision to retire after this season about one week before the final round. I have mixed feelings to be honest… Part of me is OK with retiring now, while another part of me is reluctant and wants to continue. I was debating it right up until the announcement. Kitai, then Atsuta made their retirement announcements, and I was just wondering what I should do…But thinking about it realistically, the fact that I didn't have a contract for next year should make it obvious that I'm retiring, so I wasn't sure if I should make a big presentation of it or not. I just kept thinking about it.
 I've had the idea to retire in a corner of my brain for a few years now. When I was on the Yamaha factory team I had a lot of injuries and couldn't get good results, so there were a few times I had the thought that my days might be numbered. After that I went privateer, and to continue in that way would have been too tough, so I thought last year would be my last one, but that's when I got an offer from KRT and thought I should give it another shot. But that offer was only for a one-year contract, so I figured that this would be the best timing to quit.
 I don't feel like I've tired myself out or reached my limit or anything like that. I have plenty confidence that I can still perform. I haven't lost any strength compared to ten years ago. If anything it just takes me a bit longer to recover from fatigue than it did before. I take supplements to deal with that, so all-in-all I think the more racing experience I've built up, the more my potential to do well has increased, even more than before.
 But the decision to keep going as a Pro rider or not comes down to one major factor. If I were young and single I would have no problem to be out there trying, even if just the minimum requirements were met, but having a family that just wouldn't work. I need to have a proper chance of winning in order to keep going. I also need to have the organization and support to go out and win.
 Before when I managed my own team, Team Takase, we had our own truck and we had a great staff. To try to put that back together at this point would be a major challenge, so my only option was with KRT. Those are the circumstances that led up to my decision to retire.
 This "final round" has become exactly that, my last ever round. I didn't dwell on it too much during the races though. But, from qualifying through the races, it was like I was trying too hard, kind of running in place at some points, that's what I think happened looking back on it now. It's not that I wanted to go out with a win, or that I wanted to finish out safely, but I think it's that I had a lot of mixed feelings going on.
 At the start of the first moto I was in dead last. I messed up my clutch release on the start, and ended up going to the left. That was the inside line and I couldn't get out of there, which left me caught up in the slower pace at the back. In the opening stages I was in 14th or 15th. Towards the end I was fighting with Kitai but I couldn't come out on top, so I finished in 12th.
 Usually Sugo gets a lot rougher and develops a lot of ruts, but this time the dirt was harder. It was like the Sugo of more than 20 years ago. Back when I was in the IB class, the layout had the first corner going around to the right, then climbing. I can still remember it well. My fellow rider at the time, Mr. Tazawa (current KRT team manager) was IB champion, so he always likes to tease me saying "I was faster than you back then!"
 During the afternoon break I asked our team doctor, Dr. Hirabuki, to give me a massage and tape me up. I told him that this really would be the last time, and thanked him for all he's done for me. My director Mr. Yokoyama, my mechanic Mr. Kameyama and my helper Eiji Murawaki (former top-level motocross rider) all looked pretty calm, but for me, I came here to fight hard in my last race.
 I got a better start in the second moto and I was able to hang onto 5th in the opening laps. I thought "I've got this!" and decided to shoot for the podium, but everybody out there had a really fast pace with this being the last round. Atsuta was right in front of me until the middle stages, but I ended up battling with Kitai again, another rider who was retiring, so I thought that must have been some kind of fate for us. We were both amped up because of that, but in the end I lost out and as I was too tired.
 I'd been trying too hard since the opening laps and the track had gotten pretty torn up by then, so it was all I could do to keep the bike in line. In the end I finished 8th. But I honestly gave it my all, so I have no regrets. Looking back, my battle in 2010 with Atsuta for the championship is one of my best memories. It was here at Sugo where we got into a duel and I crashed, resulting in my losing the championship by nine points. But he's a rival I can really respect.
 As for the retirement ceremony after the race…This isn't my hometown, so to see so many people turn up for it was really unexpected, and from the moment I stepped on stage I was just overcome with emotion. When it was time for me to give my speech, I couldn't recall all the things I'd been thinking of and wanted to say, so I ended up rather speechless.
 From the start of the ceremony for about an hour and a half I was surrounded by fans. I took pictures with them and signed autographs, then had champagne sprayed on me until I was soaking wet. After that I couldn't stop shivering. But I was so happy that the fans had come together to see my final race that I stood out there talking until it was completely dark.
 To all the people who have supported me in my career, it is with great thanks and appreciation that I, Takase Tanaka, retire from racing. Thank you for everything.

  • #331Hiroaki Arai #8 Takase Tanaka
  • #8 Takase Tanaka

Results

IA1 Race1

Pos. No. Rider Machine
1 114 Cole Seely Honda CRF450
2 1 Yohei Kojima Suzuki RM-Z450WS
3 99 Yuu Hirata Yamaha YZ450FM
4 400 Kei Yamamoto Honda CRF450
5 13 Kouichi Fukaya Suzuki RM-Z450
6 2 Yoshitaka Atsuta Suzuki RM-Z450WS
7 331 Hiroaki Arai Kawasaki KX450F-SR
8 982 Akira Narita Honda CRF450W
9 4 Makoto Ogata Kawasaki KX450F-SR
10 7 Nozomu Yasuhara Yamaha YZ450F
11 100 Yoshiki Kitai KTM 450SX-F
12 8 Takase Tanaka Kawasaki KX450F-SR
13 14 Yuta Ikegaya Suzuki RM-Z450
14 12 Masanori Itou Yamaha YZ450F
15 42 Tatsuki Inagaki Suzuki RM-Z450
16 15 Masaaki Suzuki Suzuki RM-Z450WS
17 18 Shoya Shiraishi Yamaha YZ450F
18 41 Daiki Baba Honda CRF450
19 121 Lee Jae Min Yamaha YZ450F
20 16 Taisuke Nakamura Yamaha YZ450F

IA1 Race2

Pos. No. Rider Machine
1 114 Cole Seely Honda CRF450
2 99 Yuu Hirata Yamaha YZ450FM
3 1 Yohei Kojima Suzuki RM-Z450WS
4 13 Kouichi Fukaya Suzuki RM-Z450
5 2 Yoshitaka Atsuta Suzuki RM-Z450WS
6 4 Makoto Ogata Kawasaki KX450F-SR
7 331 Hiroaki Arai Kawasaki KX450F-SR
8 8 Takase Tanaka Kawasaki KX450F-SR
9 400 Kei Yamamoto Honda CRF450
10 7 Nozomu Yasuhara Yamaha YZ450F
11 12 Masanori Itou Yamaha YZ450F
12 14 Yuta Ikegaya Suzuki RM-Z450
13 100 Yoshiki Kitai KTM 450SX-F
14 42 Tatsuki Inagaki Suzuki RM-Z450
15 15 Masaaki Suzuki Suzuki RM-Z450WS
16 41 Daiki Baba Honda CRF450
17 18 Shoya Shiraishi Yamaha YZ450F
18 16 Taisuke Nakamura Yamaha YZ450F
19 121 Lee Jae Min Yamaha YZ450F

IA2 Race1

Pos. No. Rider Machine
1 28 Chihiro Noutsuka Honda CRF250RW
2 32 Yusuke Watanabe Yamaha YZ250F
3 122 Taiki Koga Honda CRF250R
4 29 Junya Takenaka Suzuki RM-Z250WS
5 113 Masami Tanaka Honda CRF250R
6 52 Shouta Ueda Kawasaki KX250F
7 912 Kohei Ogawa Honda CRF250R
8 39 Ukyo Michiwaki Honda CRF250R
9 31 Takashi Okano Yamaha YZ250F
10 05 Yusuke Mori Honda CRF250
11 36 Takumu Yokosawa Honda CRF250R
12 38 Ryota Ikemoto Suzuki RM-Z250
13 47 Atsuki Uchida Suzuki RM-Z250
14 02 Eiki Suzumura Honda CRF250R
15 04 Kota Toriyabe Yamaha YZ250F
16 43 Takesato Kitahara Kawasaki KX250F
17 50 Takuto Tsuji Honda CRF250R
18 59 Ryo Sato Suzuki RM-Z250
19 64 Riki Hirayama Kawasaki KX250F
20 53 Ryousuke Sugaya Kawasaki KX250F

IA2 Race2

Pos. No. Rider Machine
1 28 Chihiro Noutsuka Honda CRF250RW
2 32 Yusuke Watanabe Yamaha YZ250F
3 36 Takumu Yokosawa Honda CRF250R
4 122 Taiki Koga Honda CRF250R
5 912 Kohei Ogawa Honda CRF250R
6 05 Yusuke Mori Honda CRF250
7 31 Takashi Okano Yamaha YZ250F
8 38 Ryota Ikemoto Suzuki RM-Z250
9 39 Ukyo Michiwaki Honda CRF250R
10 43 Takesato Kitahara Kawasaki KX250F
11 64 Riki Hirayama Kawasaki KX250F
12 52 Shouta Ueda Kawasaki KX250F
13 777 Hadleigh KNIGHT KTM 250SX-F
14 29 Junya Takenaka Suzuki RM-Z250WS
15 37 Ryota Baba Yamaha YZ250F
16 47 Atsuki Uchida Suzuki RM-Z250
17 53 Ryousuke Sugaya Kawasaki KX250F
18 35 Takashi Saito Suzuki RM-Z250
19 06 Hyoga Kasahara Yamaha YZ250F
20 04 Kota Toriyabe Yamaha YZ250F

2016 All Japan Motocross Championship Standings

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