Yu Hirata prepares for All Japan series with select New Zealand events.
Japanese factory Yamaha rider Yu Hirata has arrived in New Zealand to prepare for his 2014 assault on the All Japan Motocross IA1 (MX1) title.
Hirata finished third in his national championship in 2013, with the tightly-contested title going down to the final race at Sugo, the former grand prix circuit located in northern Japan.
Under the watchful eye of world motocross legend Josh Coppins, 29-year-old Hirata will train and ride in New Zealand on the all-new YZ450F alongside Altherm JCR Yamaha’s MX1 rider Billy Mackenzie, defending New Zealand MX2 Champion Scott Columb and MX125 title contender, Logan Blackburn.
“I’m grateful to the Yamaha staff in Europe and Japan, and also to Josh for this opportunity” said Hirata. “It’s an honour to learn from one of the best in world.”
Hirata will get his first taste of racing in New Zealand when he lines up to compete in the MX1 class at the prestigious New Zealand International Motocross Grand Prix to be held at Woodville this weekend.
Following the Woodville GP, Hirata will then hit the road with Altherm JCR Yamaha team and contest the opening two rounds of the 2014 New Zealand Motocross Nationals, starting in Timaru on 8 February, before heading to Tokoroa on 23 February.
The concentrated effort in New Zealand will put Hirata in fine form for when he returns to Japan to make final preparations ahead of his 10-round domestic Championship that kicks off in April.
“I’m really looking forward to racing in New Zealand, great to be here, it is a very nice place,” added Hirata. “I have heard the riders are fast here, so that will be good for me.
“I will be here riding and training for one month with Josh and then I will return back to Japan for the All Japan Championship. I’m grateful to the Yamaha staff in Europe and Japan for organising this for me, and also to Josh for this opportunity.”
Hirata has been a frontrunner in his homeland over the past few seasons and a regular contender for race wins. He will be eager to maximise the opportunity to train in NZ and build on his strengths with local master, Coppins.
A pre-season build-up in NZ will be the ideal springboard for Hirata to gain an advantage over his rivals back home.