Japanese speedway is in mourning after a woman rider who entered the sport to much fanfare was killed in a high-speed crash aged 27.
Alongside her colleague Maya Sato, Hiromi Sakai became the first woman to race in the sport for over 40 years when she competed in her first Auto Race in July 2011.
Tragically, just months after making her high profile debut Ms Sakai lost her life in a training accident while travelling as fast as 150 kmh, the Herald Sun reported.
As yet the exact cause of the crash is unknown, but Sakai died from her injuries after she was thrown from her bike, crashing into fencing.
The sports governing body JKA said: "A medical team was brought in immediately, but despite the treatment she died due to a skull fracture."
Auto Race, known as Oto Resu in Japan, is a version of speedway racing that takes place on tarmac instead of dirt and uses highly powerful motorbikes with no brakes.
In October last year, British Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon died following a mid-race crash in Las Vegas. He was 33.
Written by Kimberley Homer
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