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Yoshimi Katayama: 1940-2016

Ex Mazda factory driver and serial sportscar class winner Yoshimi Katayama passed away on March 26. Katayama is seen below celebrating after a class win in the 1984 Le Mans 24 Hours with Mazda President Kenichi Yamamoto, father of the Mazda Rotary Engine.

1984 Le Mans 24 Hours

One of that very rare breed of sportsmen that have proved competitive on both two and four wheels, Katayama raced in Motorcycle Grand Prix from 1964 with Suzuki, finishing second in the 50cc World Championship in 1967.

He switched to four wheels, as a Mazda factory driver and won a number of important races, principally at the Fuji International Raceway for them marque.

He had success overseas too, racing in the Spa 24 Hours, finishing second in a Mazda RX7 in the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst alongside Allan Moffat.

He scored a pair of class wins at the Daytona 24 Hours too, in 1979 (below) and 1982.


He was a regular at Le Mans in the 1980s too, and again took class wins – In 1983 (Group C Junior), 1984 (Group C2) and in 1990 (GTP) before retiring from the sport.

1983 Group C Junior winner.


1984 C2 class winner (seen at Goodwood Festival of Speed).


1990 GTP class winner.


With thanks to John Brooks