Katayama breathless on Everest

WHEN he left Formula 1 at the end of 1997, Ukyo Katayama said that his ambition was to climb Mount Everest without oxygen. The 38-year-old chirpy Japanese star nearly achieved that goal recently when he got up to 7400m before needing a little help. Ukyo will no doubt try again having come so close to establishing a new first.

Katayama should not be underestimated. He learned to drive racing cars at the Elf Winfield School in France, despite not speaking a word of French or English. His instructor Simon de Latour taught him the fundamentals using the basic language of thumping the driver when it was time to brake.

Katayama then had an amazing accident at Clermont Ferrand which saw his Formula Renault go over the barriers. Ukyo suffered a broken neck and two broken legs but he was soon back in action in Formula 3.

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