Born February 1947. Making his road racing debut in 1966 at the age of 19, Takai advanced through to the junior league in 1968, and won the All Japan Championship (125cc class) in 1969. From 1971, after becoming a contract rider with Yamaha, he competed and won his first race overseas, the Macau GP in 1972. From here he was tipped as the next Hideo Kanaya. Joining the 1974 Yamaha Factory Team and securing the All Japan F750 championship on a TZ350, the next year saw Takai compete in the World GP alongside Giacomo Agostini and Kanaya, where he finished 2nd in the France GP 250cc class.
Despite a small height of 160cm, Takai would take full command of the monstrous 500cc and 750cc machines to take his second 750cc championship crown in the All Japan Expert (formerly Senior) Class in 1976. Known as the "Little Giant," Takai was equally talented in development work just as his teammate Kanaya. Among other models, Takai made notable contributions to the development of the YZR500. Takai's development work had a significant influence in helping secure Kenny Roberts' third GP crown, and Kenny was quoted as saying "The machine will be great if Iku has had anything to do with it." However, tragically in 1982, Takai died in a crash while testing the YZR500 (0W61) with Yamaha's first V4 engine for the GP series. Soon after this disaster, Roberts dedicated his Spanish GP victory on the 0W61 to Takai.
|Year||Class||Result & Pole position||Machine|
|1975||250cc||15th||PP: 1||1st: 0||2nd: 1||3rd: 0||YZR250(0W17)|
|1979||500cc||29th||PP: 0||1st: 0||2nd: 0||3rd: 0||YZR500(0W45)|
|1981||500cc||21st||PP: 0||1st: 0||2nd: 0||3rd: 0||YZR500(0W54)|
*Results for years with a Yamaha factory team, riding a Yamaha factory machine or ranked 5th or higher riding a Yamaha production racer (World GP, World F750)