Tomomi Manako (眞子 智実, born September 16, 1972 in Saga Prefecture, Japan) is a Japanese Grand Prix motorcycle road racer who competed in the 125cc class from 1994 to 1998 on a Honda, and the 250cc class in 1999 on a Yamaha. He finished in the top three of the 125cc Championship for three consecutive years, narrowly missing out on the title in 1998.

Tomomi Manako
NationalityJapanese
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years1994 - 1999
First race1994 125cc German Grand Prix
Last race1999 250cc Argentine Grand Prix
First win1996 125cc Catalan Grand Prix
Last win1998 125cc Argentine Grand Prix
Team(s)Honda, Yamaha
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
76 6 23 0 7 752

Early careerEdit

He began racing at the relatively late age of 21, competing in the Kyushu Area and Suzuka Area Championship.

1994Edit

Manako began competing at national level in the 125cc All-Japan Road Racing Championship and finished the season 7th.[1] Spotted by Honda, he was offered a ride on an RVF750 in the Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance race. Partnered by Tekeshi Tsujimura he finished in 13th place. Midway through the year he was offered a Honda ride in the 125cc World Championship with the FCC Technical Sports team as a replacement for their injured rider Tomoko Igata. He finished 3rd in his first race and ended the season 20th overall.

1995Edit

Now a full-time GP rider with the team, Manako scored two more 3rd positions and was consistently finishing inside the Top 10. He finished the season 8th overall, and won the Rookie of the Year award. He again rode in the Suzuka 8 Hour with Tsujimura finishing 15th on board an RVF750.

1996Edit

Moving to the UGT Europa team, Manako visited the podium four times, one of which was his maiden Grand Prix win at the Catalunya Grand Prix. He finished 3rd in the Championship and won the IRTA Cup. He was now firmly established as one of the top riders in the 125cc class.

1997Edit

The team was now named UGT 3000, and Manako again had an impressive run of form. While another victory eluded him, he scored four 2nd places and two 3rds to finish yet again 3rd in the Championship.

1998Edit

1998 was the high point of Manako’s career as he put in some outstanding performances in what was to become a dramatic and controversial battle for the title. Apart from 3 DNFs, he never finished off the podium in 14 races, netting 5 wins.[2] His main rival was Kazuto Sakata who had gained an early lead in the title chase. In the second half of the season however Manako was fast and consistent and had closed the gap considerably. After the penultimate round in the Australian Grand Prix, a fuel sample was taken from Sakata’s machine which was found to be in breach of technical regulations. He was excluded from the results of the race, thus losing out on 13 points for his 4th place. His Aprilia team lodged an appeal against the decision. Going into the final round in Argentina, Manako could still win the title if he won the race with Sakata finishing lower than 4th. Charging through the pack, Manako took the win, while Sakata could only finish 5th. Bizarrely, though Manako now had one more point than Sakata, he could not be crowned Champion as Sakata’s appeal was still pending. In November 1998 the FIM found in favour of Sakata and restored his 13 points from the Australian Grand Prix. Sakata claimed the 125 title by 12 points.

1999Edit

Manako switched to the 250cc class riding a Yamaha for Team Kurz. However the bike was underpowered and uncompetitive against the works machines of the day, and Manako could only manage a best finish of 8th. He ended his final world championship season in 15th place.

2000Edit

He returned to Japanese domestic racing, this time with Kawasaki where he ran a ZX-9R, scoring a 3rd and a 5th. He also piloted a ZX-12R to 14th place in the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race with Shigeru Yamashita.

Post-racing careerEdit

His association with Kawasaki lead to him becoming Chief Development Rider for their 2007 ZX-6R, launched in December 2006.[3]

Grand Prix career statisticsEdit

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Points 25 20 16 13 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Class Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Points Rank Wins
1994 125cc Honda AUS
-
MAL
-
JPN
-
ESP
-
AUT
-
GER
3
NED
NC
ITA
8
FRA
-
GBR
-
CZE
-
USA
-
ARG
-
EUR
-
24 20th 0
1995 125cc Honda AUS
3
MAL
24
JPN
10
ESP
9
GER
9
ITA
6
NED
9
FRA
5
GBR
NC
CZE
8
BRA
9
ARG
9
EUR
3
102 8th 0
1996 125cc Honda MAL
7
INA
7
JPN
4
ESP
8
ITA
9
FRA
2
NED
5
GER
8
GBR
3
AUT
8
CZE
3
IMO
6
CAT
1
BRA
NC
AUS
9
167 3rd 1
1997 125cc Honda MAL
7
JPN
12
ESP
5
ITA
5
AUT
3
FRA
2
NED
2
IMO
2
GER
NC
BRA
4
GBR
8
CZE
2
CAT
5
INA
5
AUS
3
190 3rd 0
1998 125cc Honda JPN
2
MAL
3
ESP
2
ITA
1
FRA
NC
MAD
NC
NED
3
GBR
NC
GER
1
CZE
NC
IMO
1
CAT
1
AUS
2
ARG
1
217 2nd 5
1999 250cc Yamaha MAL
NC
JPN
8
ESP
14
FRA
17
ITA
13
CAT
12
NED
13
GBR
14
GER
14
CZE
14
IMO
14
VAL
NC
AUS
11
RSA
12
BRA
8
ARG
9
52 15th 0

ReferencesEdit