April 20, 2003 --- During the first race of the 2003 MotoGP Series held at Suzuka Circuit in Japan, Daijiro Kato crashed into the crash barrier on the left side of the track just before the chicane. Kato fell into a coma and had been receiving medical attention for the past two weeks, following the accident. At 00:42am on April 20th, Daijiro Kato passed away at the young age of 26. The cause of death was brainstem infarction.
"It was with a tremendous sense of grief that I learned of the tragic passing away of Daijiro Kato. He was one of Japan's representatives in the racing world and was recognized as one of the world's top riders. Kato secured the 250cc Class Championship in 2001 and last year moved to the MotoGP class where he held a world ranking of #7. His performance provided all of his fans with a dream. My heartfelt prayers are with him." (Suguru Kanazawa -Director, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., President, Honda Racing)
Everyone, including Daijiro Kato's fans, have been praying for as quick a recovery as possible and it is truly heartbreaking that he has left us. Our deepest condolences are with Daijiro Kato's family and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of Kato's fans who were so supportive of him.