October 24th 2004. Kawasaki Heavy Industries plans to take over a racing circuit from an Oita Prefecture municipality and use it as a test driving course for its new motorcycles according to The Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

The firm will spend around 3 billion yen for the purchase, including repairs and other necessary work.

The 4,700-metre circuit is certified by the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile and large enough to host Formula 1 races. It was opened in 1990 by a private operator, but the operator soon went under with some 80 billion yen of debt. So the village of Kamitsue took it over at no cost from the operator's creditors in 1996, and has been operating it through a public-private venture.

Lacking a long-distance test driving course, Kawasaki now uses business partner Suzuki Motor Corp's (7269) circuit. Kawasaki believes obtaining its own course will help beef up its motorcycle development programme.

Source: The Nihon Keizai Shimbun