PEOPLE: TAKAAKI KIMURA
Name: Takaaki Kimura
Takaaki Kimura, often confused with Masao Kimura - the managing-director of Yamaha's engine rival Mugen - has been with Yamaha Motors since the age of 23 when he graduated in mechanical engineering from the University of Nagoya in 1976. He started his career as an designer in Yamaha's Automobile Engine Division. After five years designing engines, Kimura moved on to a new job, the Yamaha research & development department at Iwata for two years before going back to college, enrolling as a graduate student at Wisconsin University where he took a masters degree.
After two years of study he returned to Japan to work as a development engineer in the Automobile Engine Division once again. In 1986 Yamaha entered Formula 2 racing in Japan. The company had a long and illustrious competition history in motorcycle racing, but the F2 engine was the first foray into single-seaters. The program was a success, culminating in Aguri Suzuki winning the All Japan Formula 3000 title in 1988. The following year Yamaha entered F1 with Zakspeed, but it was a disastrous season and Yamaha took a year out in 1990.
The racing program was completely reorganized and Kimura joined the team as project leader. A new alliance was formed with the Brabham team and, with Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle driving, the team did a lot better, Blundell scoring Yamaha's first point in F1 at the Belgian GP that year. Brabham's financial troubles resulted in Yamaha switching to a new alliance with Jordan in 1992, but this was also not very successful.
At the end of 1992 Yamaha decided on a new policy and began working with Engine Developments, beginning a new alliance with Tyrrell in 1993, the team scoring Yamaha's first podium finish with Blundell in Spain in 1994. Unfortunately the program did not develop as was hoped and although Yamaha introduced many interesting innovations and nearly won the 1997 Hungarian GP with Damon Hill driving, the company could not find a team willing to run its engines in 1998 and was forced to withdraw from F1. Development of the engine continued in Japan and one of the units was used as a research project by Toyota in preparation for its planned F1 entry.