Mitsuo Ito, the first and only Japanese rider to take a TT victory at the Isle of Man, has passed away at 82 years of age.
Ito had recently been inducted into the inaugural Motorcycle Federation of Japan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in December 2018.
A lifetime employee of Suzuki Japan, Ito won a TT riding a Suzuki RM63 in the 1963 50cc Ultra-Lightweight Class.
Mitsuo also participated in domestic and international Grand Prix racing from 1959 to 1967 and competed in the 50cc and 125cc categories, claiming two 50cc Grand Prix victories 13 podiums and 1 fastest lap from 29 starts.
In 1970 Ito also had a foray into car racing in Japan and won the only event he entered, the Japan Automobile Federation Junior Seven Challenge Cup held at Mount Fuji International Speedway driving a Suzuki Fronte RF single seater.
Mitsuo also famously partnered Stirling Moss in a Suzuki 360SS for a high-speed run on the Autostrada del Sol between Milan and Naples as a publicity stunt, with the 356cc two-stroke machine averaging 122.44kph (76.08mph).
After retiring from racing, Ito took part in Suzuki’s racing activities helping to develop racing machines and world-class technologies. In addition, Ito served as an engineering committee member of the MFJ for many years. He not only contributed to Suzuki but also the popularisation and development of motorcycle racing in Japan.
Words Geoff Dawes & Team Suzuki News Service © 2019. Image courtesy Team Suzuki News Service © 2019