Ukyo Katayama

Ukyo Katayama

nihongo|Ukyo Katayama|片山 右京|Katayama Ukyō|extra=born May 29, 1963 is a Japanese racing driver, one of several to try their hand at Formula One without making a major impact. However, Katayama was popular in the F1 paddock for his unshakeably sunny disposition and self-deprecating sense of humour ("It is possible to do more with this car - the only problem is my driving!")Cite web|url=|title=THE RISING SON: Ukyo Katayama's 1994|accessdate=2008-01-02|publisher=Formula One Rejects|year=2001]


Katayama was born in Tokyo. He first raced in Europe in 1986 in France before returning home to win the Japanese F3000 series in 1991.

Formula One

His sponsors, Japan Tobacco, arranged a Formula One seat for Katayama in f1|1992 with Cabin brand, with the Larrousse team. The car was unreliable and a distinct midfielder, with team-mate Bertrand Gachot getting the lion's share of the team's meagre resources. However, Katayama impressed by running in 5th at the Canadian GP until his engine blew, but was eventually left with a brace of 9th places as his best result. Unfortunately, the year was also remembered for two embarrassing collisions with Gachot in Canada and at home in Japan.

Japan Tobacco managed to arrange a switch to Tyrrell for f1|1993, but the team were at a nadir, with the interim 020C essentially three years old, and the new 021 proving uncompetitive. 10th place at the Hungarian GP was his best result, in a year in which he attracted more attention for accidents.

f1|1994 was to see a considerable turnaround for Tyrrell and Katayama. He impressed with the new 022, scoring two 5th places and a 6th. He also impressed with a number of excellent qualifying performances, running 3rd at the German GP before his throttle stuck open, and generally putting more experienced and acclaimed team-mate Mark Blundell in the shade.

He stayed on with Tyrrell for the next two seasons, but suffered a mystifying loss of form, with two 7th places in high-attrition races his best results, thus scoring no points whilst being outpaced by rookie team-mate Mika Salo. During these years his habit of crashing would re-emerge, notably with a spectacular barrel-roll at the start of the 1995 Portuguese GP, and, as a rather short man, was highly disadvantaged by the regulation changes which led to walls being built up around the cockpit, a response to the death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino GP. However, it would later emerge that in late 1994 he had been diagnosed with a cancer in his back; while non-threatening, it was painful, and his Grand Prix commitments delayed treatment. Katayama did not announce this until he retired from Formula One, not wanting anyone's sympathy to make excuses for him.

After leaving Tyrrell, his Mild Seven (another brand of Japan Tobacco) backing landed him a seat at Minardi, but they too were at a low ebb, and two 10th places were his best result. At his home Grand Prix, he emotionally announced his retirement from Formula One.

He participated in 97 grands prix, debuting on March 1, 1992. He scored a total of five championship points.

After Formula One

; As racing driverStill popular in his homeland, Katayama has since dabbled in sportscars and GT racing, as well as his other love of mountaineering. One of his most notable performance post F1 was at the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans, when during the last hour, as he was lapping traffic and closing up the leading BMW in his Toyota GT-One, sharing with compatriots Keiichi Tsuchiya and Toshio Suzuki, his car suffered a tyre blowout and whilst staying calm as nothing had happened, he was forced to slowly make its way around the track to return to the pits for a new set. In the process the GT-One lost the lead, and thus lost the race. The lone GT-One would come home 2nd overall, one lap behind the winning BMW. As a consolation prize, the GT-One would win the GTP class, although it was the only car in the class to actually finish.

He is also entering the Dakar Rally with Toyota.

In 2008, he was one of several retired F1 drivers to compete in the new Speedcar Series.

; As mountain climberKatayama is a lover of mountain climbing. He has often been climbing mountains since his F1 era.

In 2001 he climbed the world's sixth-highest mountain, Cho Oyu. On December 1 2006, it was reported that he had achieved his lifetime ambition of climbing Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world, after an unsuccessful attempt in 2004. [cite news| title =Katayama scales Mt. Manaslu| publisher| url =| date =2006-12-01| accessdate =2006-12-01]

; TV guestHe is now a commentator of Formula One in Japan, for Fuji TV. In 1997 he was a guest judge on "Iron Chef".


He is frequently referred to as 'Kamikaze Ukyo' or simply 'Kamikaze' after his family name, "Ka"tayama, and racing style.

In Brazil, Ukyo Katayama was called Katagrama (more explicitly "Cata-Grama", Portuguese for "grass-eater"), because of his constant retirements (62 in his 97 races, meaning he retired from two out of three races). It was just a local pun that reinforced his given nickname of "Kamikaze".

Complete Formula One results

() (Races in bold indicate pole position)


External links

* [ Ukyo Katayama] at F1DB.
* F1 Rejects [ article] about Katayama's F1|1994 season.
* [ Chequered Flag Motorsport's Profile of Katayama and other Japanese F1 drivers]

NAME = Katayama, Ukyo
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Japanese race car driver
DATE OF BIRTH = May 29, 1963
PLACE OF BIRTH = Tokyo, Japan

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