Hard not to notice them on the bivouacs of the 2017 Dakar. A man wearing shorts, clogs and a moustache, followed by his dusty son exhausted after battling himself through the stages of the world’s toughest rally. 35 years after his father, Shinnosuke Kazama discovered the Dakar for the very first time. And the heritage left by his dad was a pretty massive one. Indeed back in 1982, Shinji Kazama was the very first Japanese rider to start and finish the Dakar on his Suzuki. While Shinnosuke wasn’t born at the time, he was raised in that spirit of adventure. And for his first attempt at the Dakar, he too, was at the height of expectations. Despite all sorts of upsets, « Shaun » who is also an actor in Japan made it to the finish in Buenos Aires. The young Japanese fell in love with what he calls a journey. He returns for a second go with the ambition to enter the Top 50, and again, he’ll be closely followed by his father.
“I don't have memories of my dad doing the Dakar because I wasn’t born, but when I grew up, I realised what an amazing adventure he had done and I have so much respect for him. I quickly thought of living the same adventure after him. I also remember his Dakar in 2004, he had an accident and seriously injured his left leg. I learned a lot of things from him: how to ride a motorcycle, how to go camping and make a fire. He showed me the world and he still brings me a lot. The Dakar is a real childhood dream. I was dreaming to race with my dad when I was kid. I remembered that dream when I turned 30 year. I loved my first experience. It’s like a long journey with racing. I struggled with the navigation and the heat because in Japan at this period of the year, it’s winter. I was happy of finishing because it was only my second rally with navigation. My objective now is to do better. I’d be happy with a spot in the Top 50. Being part of the 40th edition means a lot for me and for Japanese media and fans. It of course also means a lot for my father who watched the first Dakar 40 years ago. It’s really emotional to compete on this 40th edition with my dad. Not many riders can live that. I guess we became the first Asian riders to finish the Dakar between 2 generations. I want to race respectfully for the people who were part of this great race in the last 40 years.”
SPIRIT OF KAZAMA
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