Naoko Takasugi (33), a Deaf female motorcycle racer from Higashi-Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture, participated in the "Endurance road race for 8 hours in Suzuka", held in the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture until July 25.
Naoko participated as the first racer of her team with the improved Ducati, a machine made in Italy. She has made debut from another team as the third racer in 2008 and lost the preliminary contest, but she successfully advanced to the final this year.
The condition on July 25 was severe; the intense heat of the summer sunlight, the road surface temperature to reached 65 degrees. One of her teammates fell down at the first stage, and the front of the machine was damaged seriously.
It had taken time to repair the machine, so the team did not reach 162 times round taken required for running the whole distance record. However, the team run round 130 times in eight hours, and Naoko was the last racer to finish. She explained when she got the checkered flag, "The team all worked hard to the last. I was deeply moved".
Naoko became deaf after the high fever hit her at the age of two. When she was 16 years old, she acquired the license to drive the bike, because she said, "I thought that was where I belonged as I was able to feel the wind".
Naoko had the accident that her bike collided against the four-wheeled vehicle in the intersection at the age of 18, and both her legs and the left arm were fractured. After this, she chose the circuit as a place where "there was no four-wheeled vehicle" so that she could drive, and began to work on the road to the racer.
She started to participate in the minibike race in 2000, and has been racing the All-Japan championship since 2006. She won a prize three times in the GP250 class in 2009, placed at the 11th during the year, too.
Attending the race, she is helped with an equipment that tells her of the timing of the gear change with the use of light.
Naoko has a dream to challenge the world championship some day. She will continue to race with her motorcycle even if she turns 40 or 50 years old.
Naoko Takasugi's website (English):