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3-time motorcycle Grand Prix winner Abe dies in street accident


YOKOHAMA, Oct. 8 KYODO News reported that three-time motorcycle Grand Prix winner Norifumi Abe died Sunday after his motorbike collided with a truck that made an illegal u-turn. He was 32.

Abe, nicknamed ''Norick,'' joined the 500 cc MotoGP, the world's premier motorcycling championship, in 1994 and earned his first victory in the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix. He also won the 1999 Brazil and 2000 Japanese Grand Prix races. In total, Abe made the podium 17 times out of his 144 Grand Prix appearances, riding Yamaha models. His last race in MotoGP was the 2004 Valencia Grand Prix.

After leaving the Grand Prix world championship, he had competed in Japan for the All Japan Superbike Championship. This year, he joined the All Japan Road Race Championship and finished third.

Abe began riding motorbikes at the age of 5 and won the 500 cc title at the All Japan Road Race Championship at the age of 18, becoming the youngest title winner.

According to police, a truck made an illegal u-turn from the left lane of a four-lane road in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, colliding with Abe's motorbike, which had been coming up behind in the right-hand lane. The police are questioning the driver of the truck on the case.