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Photo of Sayaka Kaneshiro

9Sayaka Kaneshiro

WMX Championship

Team: Factory Honda

Sponsors: Troy Lee Designs, Rockstar, Honda, Onsoku Factory, Yoshimura, Alpinestars, Arai

120 lbs
Osaka, Japan
Torrance, CA


Sayaka was born in Japan and grew up with a dream to be a world motocross champion someday.

In 2006, she and her family came to America to see the racing. That's when she knew she had to compete with the American athletes to be world champion.

At the end of 2006, her parents sold the auto body shop they'd owned for 20 years and moved to America so Sayaka could pursue her dream.

You came over from Japan, can you compare the difference between the racing in Japan and America?
Oh it's a lot different! In Japan girls can only ride 85cc bikes, but in the U.S. we ride 250cc four strokes. In Japan they can't ride 250 four strokes. I like Japan, but the women are better here - it's a lot different. In Japan, they don't have very many tracks. The tracks are so tight, so small, not big like in the U.S. Here they have a lot of tracks everywhere. And that’s why I like it! Haha. I like it a lot! Bigger tracks and everywhere, it’s good.

What opportunities do you have here in the USA to Japan?
In the U.S.A., motocross is so much more important, they know motocross here, in Japan they don’t know motocross. I need to tell people about it and explain it to them. They don't have a lot of money, because they don't have lots of sponsors. That's a difference.

What was the reason you came to America?
I want to be champion in USA and that’s why my whole family came here.

What are your goals for next season?
Of course to win. Yeah, champion. Yes, that’s what I want, that’s what I have to do.

Do you see yourself as a role model in Japan? Or America?
Probably in Japan, I was known, some people knew me because I have a blog. Here they don’t know me, I just want to talk and talk. I want people to know me and my riding and I want to keep getting better.

Who has been the biggest influence on you and your racing career and why?
My heros are Bubba Stewart and Ricky Carmichael. Ricky is like Japanese style, he is so honest and training and riding, he is so smart, and that’s why I want to try to be like him. I am learning to be like him, his riding is so good. Great, great rider, that’s my hero.

If you could change or influence anything about women’s motocross what would it be?
No problems, I like it a lot, I just get out there and go!