TOKYO, Japan -- Three-time grand prix winner Norifumi Abe of Japan has been killed in a street crash when his 500cc scooter collided with a truck making an illegal U-turn, police have revealed on Monday.
Abe won two grand prix in Japan and another in Brazil during the 1990s.
The 32-year-old ploughed into the truck while it was turning in the Tokyo suburb of Kawasaki.
In 1994, while racing in his home championship, Abe had a chance to race at the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix as a 'wild card'.
He was challenging strongly for a remarkable victory until three corners from the finish when he fell off.
His impressed Kenny Roberts' Yamaha team sufficiently to be offered two more rides in the 500cc championship that year.
Abe finished sixth in both and was given a full-time 500cc ride for the 1995 season.
He took his first podium finish in 1995, and his first win and fifth overall a year later. He moved to the D'Antin team in 1999, won at Rio that year, and won again at Suzuka a year later, amidst two seasons on less competitive machinery, in which his solid finishing ensured that his 100 per cent record of top 10 championship finishes continued.
Abe was less happy under MotoGP regulations but when he was moved to Yamaha's returning World Superbike squad for 2005, despite having less support than Noriyuki Haga and Andrew Pitt, he finished in the championship top 10.
In 2006 he did not make a podium and this year he competed in the All-Japan Superbike Championship, again on a Yamaha. E-mail to a friend