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Aguri Suzuki / People

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Aguri Suzuki
Born on 8, September 1960.
Grew up in Tokorozawa-city, Saitama Prefecture, Japan.
A graduate of Saitama Prefectural Niiza High School, the Faculty of Science, Jousai University.
Principal of Super Aguri F1 Team, concurrently holds the post of the ARTA project producer

Career

1972 Starts his career in racing karts at the age of 12.
1978 Becomes a champion in the Japanese Kart Championship.
1979 Makes his debut in the Japanese Formula Three Championship.
1981 Becomes the Japanese Kart Champion for the second time.
1983 Finishes 2nd in the Japanese Formula Three Championship series.
1985 Turns to touring car racing, and wins the Japanese Touring Car Championship for the Nissan team.
1986 Challenges the Le Mans 24 hours for the first time and becomes Group A champion, while he makes his debut in the Japanese F2 category, the same year.
1988 Makes his debut in F1. On October 30th, he drove for the Larrousse team in replacement of the ill Yannick Dalmass, in the Japan Grand Prix.
1989 Starts his career as a full-season F1 driver at the Zakspeed team, for the team was running Yamaha engines.
1990 Moves to Larrousse. He drives again for the Larrousse team gaining three sixth-places, and a third place in Suzuka - the first ever podium for a Japanese ( Asian ) driver in Formula1 - his home Grand Prix. Later on, he drives for the Footwork team and the Ligier team in the F1 category.
1995 Experiences a massive crash and a subsequent neck injury during his practice of the Japan Grand Prix, and announces his retirement from an F1 driver.
1996 Sets up the Super Aguri Company, participating in the All-Japan GT Championship and the Le Mans 24 hours as a driver.
1997 Ties up with Autobacs and launches the ARTA ( Autobacs Racing Team with Aguri ) project.
1998 Finishes 3rd in Le Mans 24 hours, and becomes the first Japanese driver ever to be on the podium in both Le mans and F1.
2000 Ends his driving career at the end of this season, setting his mind on running the ARTA project encouraging the younger generation.
2001 Entries the German F3. The same year, ARTA driver Toshihiro Kaneishi, becomes champion of the whole series.
2003 Launches Super Aguri Fernandez Racing with Adrian Fernandez, racing cars in the American IRL ( Indy Racing League ).
2005 Becomes principal of Team Honda Racing, with ARTA project joined by Dome and Honda. Entries in the Japanese Super GT ( ex-All-Japan GT Championship ). In November, he announces his entry for the next season's F1 World Championship, as Super Aguri Formula 1.
2006 Concurrently holds the post of the ARTA project producer, and the team leader of the Super Aguri F1 Team.

Hang On, Aguri!

The Entrance of Formula One

It was November 1st 2005, when ex-F1 driver Aguri Suzuki made his initial announcement of his entry, in the coming season of the Formula One World Championships, as Super Aguri Formula1. It's been some time since Japanese companies began participating in Formula One, not only as sponsors but some providing engines for several teams. And with car companies like Honda and Toyota racing their own teams, Japanese contenders seem to have become an ordinary face on the circuit.

But Super Aguri Formula1 was different. The company does not produce nor sell cars, which means that this was the first time, for a Japanese non-car-company to own a Formula One racing team. I remeber thinking 'What's it gonna be?' in a confusion of uneasiness and expectation, when I heard the news about the seemingly reckless attempt.

F1 Driver, Aguri Suzuki's Achievement

In Europe where motorsports are popular, with F1 being a quite popular sport at that, contenders for the F1 World Championships held from spring to fall, were and still are mostly from European countries. But despite such circumstances, Aguri Suzuki accomplished a great achievement in Japanese' challenge for the F1 category, in his younger days. In 1990, he finished third as a driver in the Japan Grand Prix, which made him the first Japanese ( Asian ) driver, ever to be on the podium in Formula1.

He remained as a most successful Japanese F1 driver, until Takuma Sato ( present driver for Super Aguri F1 Team ) has later taken the glory in 2004, when Takuma won third place and went on the podium in the American Grand Prix. Although Takuma has now taken his place, it is not difficult to imagine what a great achievement Aguri had accomplished, from the fact that it took as long as 14 years until Takuma's performance.

The Super Aguri F1 Team

And now, Aguri leads a racing team of his own. Super Aguri F1 Team ( team name changed from Super Aguri Formula1 since 26 March, 2006 ) is gathering attention as an All-Japan racing team, with Bridgestone and Honda providing respectively, the tires and the engines, while their driver's seats are signed up by Japanese drivers Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide.

It was only 130 days ago, when Aguri had announced the entry of Super Aguri F1 Team, but he managed to put together his new team, and barely made it for the season's opening race, Bahrain Grand Prix. Since he pulled off his job in such a surprisingly short period of time, Aguri and his team even caught the attention of foreign media. And when I saw those two new machines on the starting grid, wansn't I glad to see them there! And as I saw them, I felt the excitement that something was going to happen.

A Tough Start

Of course, not all has been smooth sailing. Super Aguri's initial entry for the 2006 championships were rejected by the FIA ( Formula One's governing body ), and Aguri had to gain approval from all 10 teams whose entries were already confirmed, before applying for his second time. They had to start their first season with machines based on ex-Arrows' 4-year-old model ( a 4-year-old machine in the world of Formula One, is pretty much prehistoric ), for copyrighted problems.

The back out of Yuji Ide, Super Aguri's second driver, also must have given a deep impact upon the team. Yuji collided with Christian Albers of Midland Team during his first lap of San Marino Grand Prix, the 4th round of this season, and the FIA taking the accident of this F1 rookie seriously charged a heavy award against him, disqualifying his super-license ( a license which F1 drivers must obtain in order to participate in the race ) for the entire season. This must have been heartbreaking to the team leader Aguri Suzuki, since Yuji was one of his early disciples from the ARTA project.

Faithful Challenge

However, Super Aguri F1 Team has overcome the hurdles until now, despite these many ordeals this new team had to face. Fortunately, they emerged from the crisis of their driver Yuji Ide's absence, by replacing him with an encouraging French driver Franck Montagny, who used to be a tester in Renault, last year's champion team. And althogh only gradually, their performance at the races are certainly improving.

"My entry in Formula One and my struggles against the World Championships, is something like climbing Everest," said Aguri Suzuki before the beginning of this season. From these words, one can see that Aguri is acutely aware of the formidableness of his challenge, yet at the same time he has his faith in achieving his goal. And this man surely has a strong will to prove what he believes in, that if he worked things out step by step, someday he must be able to reach the top.

And now, 'bite JAPAN' would like to support Aguri 'climb the Everest'. In times when the furrows on his forhead is getting deeper, in times when tears are about to drop from his eyes behind those sunglasses, we'll always be here for you.

Hang on Aguri Suzuki!!

Super Aguri F1 Team Until Now

The 2006 Season

Despite many difficulties the new team had to face, Super Aguri F1 finally made it to the Bahrain Grand Prix, the opening race for the 2006 season. However, the team had to muddle through the whole series, due to the lack of pre-season tests which resulted in only 3 days with a maximum of 10 laps, or the lack of ample funds, as well as the fact that they had to start the season with an Arrows A23 based machine SA05, which was far beyond being competitive. On the other hand, they also had to focus on the development of their new car SA06 in order to cast in a better car during the season.

The back out of Yuji Ide also must have been a tough situation to face. The FIA Permit Office revoked Yuji Ide's Super Licence as of May 10, 2006 preventing his return to the F1 until at least the 2007 season. But Aguri came up with a short-term response to temporarily shift up their third driver Franck Montagny, to the position of the second racing driver to get over this team crisis.

Franck Montagny stayed in the racing driver's seat for 7 races including his home-coming race the French Grand Prix, until he swapped roles with Sakon Yamamoto for the German Grand Prix the 12th round of the season, who became Super Aguri's third driver as of June 8th, 2006.

From the German Grand Prix, the updated car SA06A appeared on the circuit, though the front parts were still based on SA05. From the Turkish Grand Prix ( the 14th round of the season ), Super Aguri threw in a complete version of the long-awaited SA06, which was distinguished including the improvement in the front parts, from the former version as SA06B. With the appearance of this new car, the fighting capability was powered up to a certain level, at least to perform a battle with the Midland F1 Team.

Super Aguri still seems to be right in the middle of its struggles in the F1 world. Eventually the team ended the 2006 season earning no point, finishing in 11th place of all 11 teams. Of course, Aguri must have prepared himself for such tough situation even before the whole season had started, and he also must have convinced himself that it was going to be a 'learning' season.

Though the results of the Brazillian Grand Prix the final race of the season, seem to prove the certain steps of improvement, promising to make strides forward in the near future, with Takuma Sato finishing in an impressive 10th place, while Sakon Yamamoto set the seventh-fastest fastest lap, less than a second behind top teams.

The 2007 Season

On March 14th 2007, Super Aguri's new car SA07 has been unveiled at Albert Park curcuit, where the opening race for this season the Australian Grand Prix was to be run. This SA07 is said to be using the works Honda chassis, and the rival teams Williams and Spyker are intensely resisting it, claiming that it is a 'customer chassis' which its usage is in fact against Formula 1 regulations before 2008.

Though seeing that they've gone over a number of tests and already have done the presentation with that car, Super Aguri somehow must have scraped through the loopholes in the regulations, as well as Scuderia Toro Rosso.

As for the drivers, Takuma Sato will continue to sit in the first driver's seat, while Anthony Davidson ( former third and test driver of Honda ) who used to be his rival in the British F3 Championships, would join him as a second driver. Super Aguri also announced that a Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde would be their third and test driver for the 2007 season, but the Dutchman seemed to have left the team for Spyker, where his girlfriend's father has a share of the ownership.

Sakon Yamamoto, the former second driver of the late 2006 season, would remain in the team as a test driver competing in the Japanese GP2 category.

Last Modified Mar.16th, 2007