A Blast From The Past Part 4: A Tragic Moment

Hervé Poncharal shows us some insights of the history of Tech3 Racing, which is celebrating season number 30 of World Championship competition in 2020.

 In 1993 we had a few Japanese private teams, that were using our workshop and offices during the European season and one of them was Nobuyuki Wakai. He was a 125cc rider and he was almost like my brother. For many years, he was there, we were training together, we were cycling together, I was taking care of him and was very close to him. In 1993 he moved to 250cc with Suzuki. He was not a factory rider, but based in Tech3 and using our workshop, although he was not an official rider, he was using a Suzuki like we were using with John Kocinski.

Just in front of us, coming out of the box in the pitlane to rejoin the track, he hit a spectator, who was crossing the pitlane and banged his head on the wall of the pitlane and died. Big accidents or bad things like that are always very difficult to cope with and to accept, but it’s especially hard when it happens to someone, who is so close to you, who is so young and so nice. We were sharing a very strong relationship and it was so stupid, because in a way it was a racing accident, but at the same time it was only in the pit at 60 or 70 km/h, I don’t know. This is incredibly unbelievably bad and that moment I will always remember, but not for the good.

This guy had great things to do ahead of him. Of course, we welcomed the parents coming over from Japan, you can imagine all that things. That was definitely one of the toughest moments. Always, when you help somebody to race and that kind of so sad thing happens, you feel partly responsible, because you have been helping him to do what he wanted to do and what he loved to do and also to this tragic end. Although his parents told me to stay positive, they said to me: “He left this world, doing what he loved most.” This is what I want to remember, but that was one of the toughest moments of my professional life.


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