Girl racer dies in speedway crash

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IOL mot pic jan16 Hiromi Sakai 1

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Hiromi Sakai, left, and Maya Sato were the first women to enter Auto Racing in more than four decades.

A Japanese woman speedway rider whose glamourous presence in the pit lane revitalised the sport has been killed in a high-speed accident just months after her debut.

Hiromi Sakai, 27, only took part in her first Auto Race in July, when she and her 19-year-old colleague Maya Sato became the first women to compete in the sport for more than 40 years.

Auto Race, or Oto Resu, is a Japanese version of speedway, raced on tarmac rather than dirt, using powerful, stripped-down machines with no brakes and handlebars specially modified to make cornering easier.

Auto Race's organising body JKA said Sakai was practicing with other racers on Sunday at a circuit in Funabashi, east of Tokyo, when she flew off her bike and slammed into fencing at about 150km/h.

No other riders were involved, it said, and the exact cause of the accident was not clear.

“A medical team was brought in immediately, but despite the treatment she died due to a skull fracture,” JKA said

Chairman Katsumi Ishiguro said: “I cannot express my sorrow enough that the accident occurred so soon after her debut, the first woman to take part in 44 years, and with a bright future ahead of her.”

Auto Race recently re-opened its doors to women for the first time since the 1960s, and Sakai quit her job at a tourist agency to join a riders' boot camp which takes only about one in every 50 applicants.

She took her first race win only a month after her debut. - AFP

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Tinyiko, wrote

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08:35am on 23 January 2012
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Racing anything,even a wheel barrow, with no brakes redefines stupidity to newer levels.And I admit it, I am down-right ignorant but proud to be alive though!

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Amanzimtexan, wrote

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12:03pm on 18 January 2012
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F1, A1, WRC, Indy 500, you name it...They all have brakes. Any accidents you know of there that have ocurred in the last year or so Top Geriac? Do yourself a favour and (at least) do some homework on what Speedway is all about and maybe you won't looksound such a Ignorant Geariac.

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JC, wrote

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10:15am on 17 January 2012
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look Ma...No Brakes.........STUPID!!!!!

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dave, wrote

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10:30pm on 16 January 2012
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@Top Geariac cause its speedway

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Top Geariac, wrote

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02:53pm on 16 January 2012
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Why would you wanna race something with no brakes? Insamne!

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