This just in from the FIM:
The Japanese rider Norifumi Abe passed away yesterday evening in a traffic accident in Kawasaki-city (Japan). He was 32 years old. According to local police, Abe was riding a scooter when he collided with a truck that was making an illegal U-turn.
Norifumi "Norick" Abe was born on September 7, 1975 in Tokyo. He started to ride a motorcycle when he was 5 years old. His father was a professional racer. After he finished high school in 1991, he went to California to learn motorcycle riding, including dirt-track. Back in Japan, barely 18 years old, he took part in his first All-Japan Championship in 1993, in the 500c class, and won the title.
He burst out into competition with an astonishing performance as a wild-card rider on a Honda NSR 500 during the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. He fought almost throughout the race for the lead with Michael Doohan and Kevin Schwantz, only to crash three laps before the chequered flag.
He scored his first Grand Prix points that year in Brno (Czech Republic) and Laguna Seca (USA) with two sixth places, riding a factory Yamaha YZR 500. In 1995, he finished the Championship in 9th position, his best placing being a third place (and first podium) in Rio de Janeiro. In 1996 he scored his first win, at home in Japan, on the Suzuka circuit. He was on the podium three more times, with a third place in Donington Park, Salzburg and Rio and finished the season in 5th place, his best result ever. He was 7th in 1997, 6th in 1998 and 1999 (that year he won his second Grand Prix, in Rio), and in 2000 he won again in Suzuka. At the end of 2004, he stopped racing in Grand Prix, and took part in the All-Japan Superbike Championship and also in the Superbike World Championship, in the Yamaha France team (13th in 2005 and 2006).
This year he was racing in the All-Japan Championship (1000cc class), in which he was currently 3rd with 97 points.
On behalf of the FIM, President Vito Ippolito and CEO Guy Maitre present their sincere condolences to his family and friends.