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Monday, October 8, 2007 3:13 am

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Norifumi "Norick" Abe in a PR shot.

Photo: (c) norickabe.com

‘Legendary rider’ Norick Abe dies in motorbike, truck collision

Norifumi “Norick” Abe, one of Japan’s most successful motorcycle road racers, collided with a truck while riding a motorbike in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, and died from the resulting injuries after having been taken to hospital Sunday afternoon, the Asahi Shimbun reports. Abe was 32 years old.

Local police say the collision occurred on a four-lane municipal road, when the driver of the truck made an illegal U-turn, colliding with Abe who was closing in on the truck from behind on its righ-hand side.

The truck driver told police he realized he had mistakenly taken the wrong way, and tried to get back on track.

Norifumi Abe was born to the auto racer Mitsuo Abe, and sat on a bike for the first time when he was 5. After finishing elementary school, he spent two years in the United States, perfecting his skills. Abe made his world championship debut in 1994 as a wild card at the Japanese Grand Prix, and won his first Grand Prix title 1996. He would conquer the title twice more, in 1999 and in 2000.

Abe, who was also known as Norrick Abe in the English-speaking world and as “the legendary rider” in Japan, had many fans in Japan as well as worldwide.

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