WILD CHILD TAKES GP WORLD BY STORM
Norifumi Abe may have only been 19, but had impressed so much with his wild-card rides in 1994 that there was a fight for his signature. Wayne Rainey and Kenny Roberts both wanted the Japanese sensation, who had led the Japanese GP in 1994 and taken two sixth places later the same year. Abe also showed strong pace in tests and was hotly tipped as a future world champ. It never quite worked out that way, with Abe’s best finish in 1995 being a podium. He did win a race in 1996 and was a regular top 10 finisher until 2003 when 500s were phased out altogether. He tragically died in 2007 at the age of just 32 while riding a scooter in Japan.