Only one Japanese rider has taken a TT victory. We remember the late Suzuki loyalist.
Photograph: MORTONS ARCHIVE
Mitsuo Ito, the first and only Japanese rider to win an Isle of Man TT, has passed away at the age of 82.
Born on January 1, 1937, Ito was a lifelong Suzuki employee and made his grand prix debut in 1961.
Two years later he won the Ultra-Lightweight 50cc TT – in the picture shown, he’s on his way to that victory – on the works Suzuki RK67, and he remains the only Japanese rider to win around the famous 37.73-mile course. In 2008 he returned to the Isle of Man to celebrate his achievements.
The 50cc TT was added to the calendar in 1962, in a race won by Ernst Degner, on a Suzuki – the marque’s first TT win.
The 50cc race was included in the calendar between 1962 and 1968, with Suzuki winning four of them, Honda two and Derbi the final one in 1968.
Read more in the September 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!