List of Suzuka Circuit fatalities

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This article lists the fatal accidents that happened in the Suzuka Circuit, a motorsport race track that is operated by Mobilityland, a subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., located in Suzuka City in the Mie Prefecture of Japan. The accidents that have occurred here had mostly included cars (twelve, one involving the safety car), although motorcycles (seven) have also been involved. There were as many as seventeen people who were victims of the crashes that had happened in the track during its half-century of existence, almost all of them Japanese professional racers, with the exception for Elmo Langley (American safety car driver) and Jules Bianchi (French professional driver) incidents.

Among the most notable occurrences of fatalities in this track, include the death of Honda RC211V racer Daijiro Kato on April 20, 2003, after the Japanese motorcycle Grand Prix race.[1][2] His death was as listed as brain stem infarction after spending two weeks in a coma in a hospital. Other notable deaths include that of Dome Karasu driver Tojiro Ukiya who died in a test run on August 20, 1965, Lola T92/50 (with Mugen Honda engine) racer Hitoshi Ogawa on May 24, 1992, while on the way to the hospital immediately after the Japanese Formula 3000 race, and an American, NASCAR safety car driver Elmo Langley on November 21, 1996. Langley's death was not in a crash but the official who was driving the safety car during inspection, pulled the car over as he suffered a heart attack.

The most recent death to have happened in the track is that of Jules Bianchi on October 5, 2014, which collided with a crane tractor that was deployed to pick up Adrian Sutil's car, which spun out earlier. Bianchi succumbed to his injuries on July 17, 2015 following a nine-month coma, making him the first foreign driver to die on the track in a crash.

List of fatal accidents involving competitors[edit]

Driver Date Vehicle Entrant Section Type Event
Japan Masao Asano May 4, 1963 Austin-Healey 3000 130R Car Japanese Grand Prix
As Asano approached 130R, he crashed into the guardrail, throwing him clear of the car suffering a severe head injury. Asano died in hospital three months later.[3][4]
Japan Tojiro Ukiya August 20, 1965 Dome Karasu 130R Car Testing
Whilst avoiding two spectators who were walking on the course, Ukiya swerved but crashed into a lamppost. He was thrown off his car, suffering head injury and fracturing both legs and died in hospital 21 days later.[3][5] The car is believed to be a Dome Karasu, a rebodied S600 and was the first car to be built by Dome.[6]
Japan Takeshi Mitsuno October 10, 1965 Car Suzuka KSCC race meeting
Japan Takashi Matsunaga August 10, 1969 Honda R1300 Honda Spoon Curve Car Suzuka 12 Hours race
As Matsunaga was about to stop to refuel, he crashed into a guardrail, causing the car to explode into a fireball. Matsunaga was taken into hospital where he died 25 days later on September 4[3]
Japan Kiyoshi Akiyama August 23, 1970 Honda S800 Spoon Curve Car Suzuka 12 Hours race

Akiyama's Honda S800 struck Hiromi Nishino's Isuzu Bellett at Spoon corner, causing the two cars to explode into a fireball, burning 150 liters of gasoline. While Nishino managed to escape with the aid of marshals, Akiyama remained in the burning car about 15 minutes. When marshals managed to extract him from the wreck it was too late to save Akiyama. He later died of extensive burns.[8][9]

Japan Satoru Takashima August 8, 1970 Degner Motorcycle Suzuka 10 Hours Production
During a Saturday qualifying session, 20-year-old newcomer, Takashima went straight at the Degner bend and flew over the guardrails, sustaining severe head and chest injuries. He was transferred to hospital where he succumbed to head injuries shortly afterwards, specifically basilar skull fracture.[10]
Japan Minoru Kawai August 26, 1970 Toyota 7 Toyota Degner Car Testing
Kawai lost control of the Toyota 7 at the Degner bend at about 200 km/h, being thrown out of the car. He sustained a basal skull fracture and both legs broken, being immediately taken to hospital by ambulance. About 30 minutes later he died of his injuries.[8][11][12]
Japan Senkichi Omura April 7, 1974 Brabham BT21 Spoon Car F2000 private test
Omura crashed into a guardrail, killing him instantly with a broken neck.[8]
Japan Masazi Iso 6 March 1982 1st Curve Car All-Japan Formula Three Championship practice
Iso's car spun on the 1st Curve and stopped on the grass. While he was walking away, he was struck by another car, killing him instantly.[13][14]
Japan Kengo Kiyama 10 June 1983 Spoon Motorcycle 200 km of Suzuka qualifying
Whilst approaching the Spoon curve, Kiyama crashed, killing him instantly.[15]
Japan Kunio Katsumata 30 July 1983 Motorcycle Suzuka 8 Hours qualifying
Japan Hitoshi Ogawa May 24, 1992 Lola T92/50 - Mugen Honda First Corner Car Japanese Formula 3000 race
Ogawa attempted to overtake Andrew Gilbert-Scott's car on the main straight but Gilbert-Scott held his position. As Ogawa moved to the side of Gilbert-Scott's car he hit the rear-left wheel of the British driver's car, the front wheel of Ogawa's car climbed over the aforementioned wheel and became lodged in front of it. The two of them travelled down the straight at speed and off into the gravel trap. Gilbert-Scott's car spun while Ogawa's car went in nose-first. Gilbert-Scott's car hit the tyre wall and flipped, landing upside down. However, Ogawa hit a mound and went over the tyre barrier, hitting a high-fence supporting pole with violent force. Both cars were completely destroyed in the accident and the race was immediately stopped. One cameraman, several photographers, and Gilbert-Scott were all injured. Ogawa was freed from his wrecked Team Cerumo Lola, but had suffered severe leg, head and neck injuries during the crash. He died on the way to a hospital.[17]
United States Elmo Langley November 21, 1996 Chevrolet Corvette Safety Car S-Curve Car NASCAR Thunder 100
NASCAR official and safety car driver Langley suffered a heart attack during safety car runs for the NASCAR exhibition race and stopped in the S-Curve. He was the first person from outside Japan to die at the circuit.[18][19]
Japan Naoto Ogura March 7, 2000 Suzuki Hayabusa Yoshimura 200R Motorcycle Testing
Ogura crashed into a barrier on the outside of 200R, he was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries. Motorcycles no longer use 200R after 2004 revisions added a chicane.[20]
Japan Mamoru Yamakawa July 30, 2000 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-9R Challenge of Yamakawa 130R Motorcycle Suzuka 8 Hours race
Yamakawa lost control of his Kawasaki after failing to negotiate 130R and crashed into the cushioned barriers. He was dead on arrival, caused by severe hemorrhage due to the loss of blood. It was the first of a few major incidents (the others were not fatal) at Suzuka that led to 130R being reprofiled for 2003.[21][22][23]
Japan Daijiro Kato April 20 2003 Honda RC211V Gresini Racing Between 340R and Casio Triangle Motorcycle Japanese motorcycle Grand Prix race
Exiting the 85R/340R double-apex (sometimes called 130R, a reference to the 130m radius curve prior to the 2003 revisions) on Lap 3, Kato high-sided on the straight exiting 340R, braking for the Casio Triangle. Kato struck the wall at around 125 mph (200 km/h), which he then thrown back onto the track and was lying next to the racing line [1]

Controversially, rather than waving a red flag to allow the race to be stopped so the track can be safely cleared, corner workers dragged Kato's body off the track and threw him on a stretcher. The race was not stopped.

Kato spent two weeks in a coma following the accident before dying as a result of the injuries he sustained. The cause of death was listed as brain stem infarction. The Japanese Grand Prix motorcycle race have not been held at Suzuka following Kato's crash, with safety issues at the facility in light of the F1 race the previous October with 130R, including a serious crash involving Toyota F1 driver Allan McNish at 130R, it had been rebuilt over that winter, safety being cited as the reason.[2]

Japan Keisuke Sato 12 June 2005 Honda CBR600RR Second Corner Motorcycle 200 km of Suzuka qualifying
On the last lap of a qualifying session for a 200-kilometer race, Sato lost control of his bike when he attempted to swerve around a pool of fuel left on the track after another accident involving two other competitors causing him to run off the road and hit a safety barrier, causing him fatal thoracic injuries, resulting in his death.[24][25]
Japan Osamu Nakajima 21 October 2012 Nissan 350Z First Corner Car FIA WTCC Race of Japan meet - Super Taikyu
During the FIA World Touring Car Championship Race of Japan meet, Nakajima's car slipped in oil from a previous incident at First Corner on Lap 11 that was not cleaned (in some classes of motorsport, marshals will call the safety car to clean up oil for competitors' interest of safety), sliding off the road and hitting the wall, resulting in the driver's death. The race was stopped, and no champagne was sprayed during winner's ceremonies for the feature race.
France Jules Bianchi 5 October 2014 Marussia MR03 Marussia F1 Dunlop Corner Car 2014 Japanese Grand Prix
On lap 42 of the Grand Prix, Adrian Sutil had spun into the runoff area at Dunlop Corner, in heavy rain, and a crane tractor was deployed to attend to his car. Afterwards, with only Dunlop Corner under yellow but the rest of the track still under green, Bianchi collided at high speeds with the tractor, knocking him unconscious. Bianchi eventually was taken to a hospital, where a CT scan revealed he had suffered a "severe head injury". Flown to France for further treatment, he would succumb to his injuries on 17 July 2015 in Nice, France. The FIA made administrative race changes following the crash.[26] In May 2016 it was revealed the Bianchi family had begun legal proceedings, against Manor Racing the current owners of the then Marussia F1, Mobilityland owners of the Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture, Kansai region, Formula One Group, and the FIA, in relation to the fatal incident.[27]


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