Mitsuo Ito (Japan, 1937), who passed away at the age of 82, was a pioneer in the history of Suzuki, a man bound in body and soul to the Hamamatsu factory, from his beginnings as a worker in the Japanese plant as engineer, until he retired. Ito was the first and only Japanese rider to win an Isle of Man TT race, and he spent the entirety of his 2-wheel career linked to Suzuki.
Ito was an engineer in charge of racing development with the first prototypes that Suzuki put on track at the beginning of the 60s, and he later became Suzuki's Top Racing Chief. In this role he was part of the first generation of riders who rode the RM series - the bikes with which Suzuki entered into motorcycling at the highest level in 1960, and with which he managed to forge a name for himself alongside legendary champions such as Ernst Degner and Hugh Andersson.
He excelled in this field and was subsequently chosen by managers in Hamamatsu to not only develop the RM project as an engineer; but also to race it on track. Thus, after competing in several races in 1961 and 1962, he came to the forefront in 1963, climbing to the top of the podium at the Isle of Man TT.
This victory was a boost, and he took a total of 13 podiums in the World Championship and another victory at home in Japan, this time in 1967. "I am honoured and thankful that I was selected as a participant and was able to win the race", Ito-san commented a year ago, when he was inducted into the Motorcycle Federation of Japan (MFJ) 'Hall of Fame'.