“I believe they’re the best kind of transportation given to mankind. Riding a motorcycle makes life that much more wonderful” and what an inspiring way to start off this week’s Inspiration Friday: Motorcyclist for Life!
Few other people in modern motorcycling have had a career quite like Masa Fujii’s. The Japanese veteran’s team has won World Championship Grand Prix races, the Le Mans 24 hours, the Suzuka Eight Hours and the Endurance World Championship, while his motorcycles have won everything from GP races to Isle of Man TTs.
“Now motorcycles are my life. I plan on living with motorcycles and exploring with them for the rest of my life!” says Mr. Fuji. Are you the same? Do you feel the same motorcycle passion? Since you are reading and visiting Total Motorcycle, then I would safely say you do. Just wait to you see our new 2021 and 2022 motorcycle model guides!
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‘Riding a motorcycle makes life that much more wonderful’
Masakazu Fujii has led his Honda-powered team to victory in the Endurance World Championship and engineered motorcycles that have won Grand Prix and TT races
Most of Fujii’s life has been lived with motorcycles, always Honda, because his father was friends with company founder Soichiro Honda, prompting a lifelong love of Honda machinery.
And yet he didn’t fall in love with motorcycles immediately.
“The first time I rode one was with my dad,” recalls Fujii, who’s based in Barcelona, Spain. “I didn’t like motorcycles at first, so it took time for me to like them and start racing. Then it didn’t take long for me to start loving them. Now motorcycles are my life. I plan on living with motorcycles and exploring with them for the rest of my life!”
Fuji’s father Teruyoshi played his part in Japan’s motorcycle boom of the 1950s, kickstarted by the creation of Honda Motor Co, Ltd and other marques. Soichiro Honda encouraged Fujii to move to Suzuka City, where Honda were building Japan’s first racetrack, the Suzuka Circuit. Fujii established Technical Sports in 1963, the year after Suzuka opened. Masa took over the company in 1984 and still adheres to his father’s philosophies.
“Dad made the organisation of Technical Sports with Honda and raced as a factory team. I watched first-hand how he lived. Race results, photos, trophies, I don’t keep any of them, so there’s nothing left. That’s my habit. My dad was like that. He used to throw away his trophies, and as a child I’d pick them up and keep them. He didn’t care about those things, and after a while that’s how I became.
“He used to say that riders know the path and that everything is possible with motorcycles – they’re 3D, they can go anywhere. I believe they’re the best kind of transportation given to mankind. Riding a motorcycle makes life that much more wonderful.”
Fujii’s team contested the Suzuka Eight Hours for the first time in 1990. The following year he renamed his company Technical Sports Racing (TSR) and entered rider Noboru Ueda in the 1991 Japanese 125cc GP. This was Ueda’s GP debut but he won the race anyway, encouraging Fujii to embark on a full World Championship programme with the youngster, who became one of the most popular riders in GP racing over the next decade.
In 1997 TSR graduated to the premier class, the 500cc World Championship, with Nobuatsu Aoki, riding a Honda NSR500. Aoki had an amazing rookie season, finishing third overall – on the championship podium! – behind factory Honda riders Mick Doohan and Tadayuki Okada.
Fujii took his company to the next level in the late 1990s, building 125cc and 250cc GP bikes, always powered by Honda engines. These machines were extremely popular with riders and achieved many successes across the sport. In 1999 Briton John McGuinness won the 250cc Isle of Man TT on a TSR Honda RS250 and two years later Ueda won the Italian 125cc GP aboard a TSR Honda RS125.
From the turn of the century Fujii focused his attentions on four-stroke racing, especially the hugely prestigious Suzuka Eight Hours race, taking victory in 2006, 2011 and 2012. By this time TSR had built a global reputation for its performance parts – in 2012 Marc Marquez won the Moto2 World Championship using a TSR quick-shifter in his Honda CBR600-powered Moto2 bike.
In 2016 Fujii embarked on another global pilgrimage, contesting the Endurance World Championship. Now based in Europe, he went into partnership with Honda France – famed for its success in endurance racing since the 1970s – and the team became F.C.C.TSR Honda France. This new partnership was immediately successful, winning the endurance world title in the 2017-2018 season.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France has achieved a total of three 24-hour wins: the 2018 and 2020 Le Mans races and the 2018 Bol d’Or. All these events were won using Honda CBR1000RR and CBR1000RR-R Fireblade machinery, tuned and prepared by TSR staff.
“It’s been Honda since I was born. Since I was born everything was Honda – cars, bikes and even lawnmowers!”
Fujii loves endurance racing for the unique challenge it represents to teams, riders and engineers.
“MotoGP, which I love, is a 100-metre sprint. Endurance racing is a marathon, and once you reach the finish there’s a unique feeling of achievement.
“My TSR team’s advantage is that we are always a small team. In 1991 we went to the Grands Prix with five us one, one of them our rider, all of us Japanese. In our EWC team we have a few Japanese members and we are gradually growing, with Spanish and French people working with us.”
In 2022 the F.C.C. TSR Honda France team will contest its seventh season in the Endurance World Championship with riders Josh Hook, Mike Di Meglio and Gino Rea riding the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP. Fujii will be there every step of the way – from the gruelling heat of Suzuka to the cold of the night at Spa-Francorchamps – as he looks to add to the Fireblade’s amazing run of success in endurance racing.