A Case for Can Akkaya as Racer and Coach

MotorcycleUSA Staff | April 10, 2015
As journalists, it’s our duty to get facts straight. We recently received a reader e-mail from a former Superbike-Coach student who questioned the veracity of our story and the professional career of the motorcycle riding school’s owner and chief instructor, Can Akkaya. We previously wrote a feature on Can called “Superbike-Coach Akkaya’s American Dream.” It tells the story of a former German road racer who gave up a comfortable life in Europe to come to the US to chase the “American Dream.” It communicates his struggles and provides background information, from his authoring a book about his road racing career titled “Racers Story…25 Seconds” to founding Superbike-Coach in 2009. Admittedly, hard evidence of his career was scant, due in part to the fact that he competed before the digital age where every action is caught on cell phones and instantaneously posted on Twitter and Instagram. Hoping to clarify any ambiguities, we dug a little deeper for proof of Akkaya’s career.

Heres a copy of Can Akkayas FIM racing license issued in 1994.
A copy of Can Akkaya’s FIM racing license issued in 1994.

“It was in the year 1993 – 1995, that moment I met Can Akkaya road racing ‘OMK International German Championship.’ We raced International A 250cc class (GP250 class) together,” said Naohiro Negishi, a former racer who now works for the Movistar Yamaha and Monster Yamaha Tech3 teams as Logistics Manager. (The quotes are published verbatim as Negishi apologized for his English skills.)

“I think we both are the same type of pilots. We had quite hot fighting spirits of course, but also we needed to THINK strategy everything whole racing life including bike setting and riding technics, control budget management, finding human resource (mechanic for myself), etc…

“We grew up in the 80’s road racing world. Most of riders has to know myself about bike setting and how to improve lap time, because without data logging system, we have to find correct set up ourselves with mechanics, and maintain the bike as well.

“I believe I have more knowledge how to get faster with safety way for new sport riders better than the other ex-riders who had ‘elite course’ to become factory rider without experience of struggling to have bike setting (how bike react after what you did). I could teach better than great name riders because I had experienced many mistakes and struggled to find bike setting by myself. I understand Can Akkaya, he has same situation like me,” said Negishi.

We learned more about Akkaya’s competitiveness from another former foe, Wilfried Gehrmann, 1991 German 500cc Trophy Champion (motorsport-archive.com). Gerhmann said, “In 1991 I became German Track Trophy champion on a Suzuki 500- the same year when Can Akkaya became German Track Trophy Vice-Champion in 250cc class.

“Thanks to our success, Can and I achieved an A-racing license for 1992, and so we were competing in the most competitive racing league in Europe – the German IDM 250cc GP class. The reason it was so competitive was that back in those times always 3-5 MotoGP pilots were competing in IDM.

“I could beat Can only a few times until I retired in 1993, but he was on fire and on his way to a Honda contract. I came out to see him doing an international race in Zolder/B, when he achieved a race record lap time. He was bare-knuckle and physical but a fair pro racer who always aimed to win, and he could stick onto someone like nobody else. I remember Can fighting even harder- the more unpromising it was. I think this is coming from his basic attitude toward life. I think his experience to teach is based on competing for years in a remorseless environment, because there is more to know than just to figure out how to get better riding skills.”

In addition to talking to two of his former competitors, we went to the source himself to see if Akkaya could provide more evidence of his career. Based on our request, he provided us with a cache of newspaper clippings, copies of race results, and a slew of other pictures from his career. The lead photo in our article is a copy of Can Akkaya’s FIM racing license issued in 1994. There’s a podium picture of Akkaya celebrating his first-ever win in Hockenheimring, Germany, in 1991, competing on 250 GP class bikes. That’s the same year Akkaya earned the title of German Track Trophy Vice-Champion, verifiable by a copy of the 1991 DMSB final results. The collection includes a copy of race results showing Akkaya’s international victory in a 250cc GP class race in Oss, NL, in 1994. There’s photos of Akkaya aboard a factory-supported RS250R Kit Honda, pictures of him with HRC techs, and numerous photos from various competitions, dicing it out with other riders. One of the grievances stated in the letter we received was that there was “no pictures or videos of him in any race whatsoever or with any other racers.”

Akkaya said he began his amateur racing career in 1985 competing for the OMK trophy aboard a Yamaha TZ350. He competed in the OMK Trophy through 1988, moving up to a Yamaha TZ500 in 1986 before settling in on a Honda RS250 for the next couple of years. In 1989, Akkaya began his semi-pro racing career, continuing to ride a Honda RS250R while competing in the German Track Trophy. In 1991, he had his best season yet, finishing second to Jurgen Hagele while earning the title of Vice-Champion. The next year he began racing professionally in the German IDM on a Honda-supported RS250R. Over the course of the next three years, Akkaya competed internationally in the Dutch Open, German IDM, Spanish Open and European Championship riding a Honda-supported Kit-RSR250. During the course of his career, his riding style earned him the nickname “Crazy Can.” After a terrible crash on Hockenheimring during the German round of the European 250cc Championship, he retired from pro racing at the end of 1995.

We searched the German IDM series website for further evidence but it doesn’t list races from that time period. We’ve requested information from Manual Hollubetz, Series Manager with IDM International Germany Championship about Akkaya for the years 1992-1995 and are still awaiting a reply.

In our dealings with Akkaya, he’s been forthright. Having reportedly coached 4000 students through his school, Akkaya works hard in a competitive market. Over the summer we intend on taking one of his cornering classes where we’ll learn first-hand his abilities as a coach.

     Can Akkaya Race History in Photos

 Superbike-Coach Can Akkaya celebrates his first-ever 250  class win in Hockenheimring  Germany  1991. Speyer  1993. Can Akkaya with No.9 in his first German IDM race as approximately 60 000 fans watch. Can Akkaya was fast but still finished in second place at an international pro race in Zolder  Belgium  1994.
Can Akkaya in his last racing season  1995. Injuries and technical problems lead to a lack of motivation and eventual retirement from the sport.  Can Akkayas Honda-supported production racer with his No. 36 in 1994 at the Zolder Circuit  Belgium.  Can Akkaya talks to technician Kai Brachtauser about his HRC-supported production racer before a 1993 race in Assen  NL.