Team Suzuki Press Office
Kazuki Watanabe: Yoshimura SERT Motul GSX-R1000R – 3rd/ 2nd.
Yoshimura SERT Motul’s Kazuki Watanabe raced to two podiums at the opening round of the 2021 All Japan Superbike series at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan at the weekend.
After taking Pole Position on the new GSX-R1000R, Watanabe completed a final shakedown test in the ultra-competitive JSB1000 series class with positive results for the team ahead of the 2021 Endurance World Championship where he will join team mates Gregg Black, Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Simeon.
Suzuki teams were also out in force at Motegi: Team KAGAYAMA’s Tsugayama Tsuneomi and Yukio Kagayama, BabyFace Powered by YOSHIMURA’s Kazuma Tsuda, St1000 class with WestPower SUZUKI’s Takuya Tsuda, Team KAGAYAMA powered by YOSHIMURA’s Sei Hasegawa and Team TKR’s Ken Murase.
On Thursday, Watanabe was third with a 1’49.643 lap, and the Suzuki team started well with Kagayama fourth and Kazuma sixth. In the afternoon session, Kagayama was third, followed by Watanabe fourth and Kazuma seventh.
Watanabe was second with a 1’49.134 on Friday with Kagayama fourth and Kazuma 10th.
In Saturday’s opening race, Watanabe got off to a good start and jumped into the first corner in the second. After that, he battled with Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) and Katsuyuki Nakasuka (Yamaha) for the top three positions. Watanabe was close to finishing second in the closing stages, but he didn’t make it to the front and finished third with Kagayama 10th and Ishima 11th after being penalised for a jump start.
In Race 2, Watanabe got off to a strong start, and led at the third corner, but following a red flag due to rain at the circuit, he then led the restart and battled with Nakasuka. On lap 22, a red flag was issued, and the race was established in the position at the end of 20 laps, giving Watanabe second.
Kagayama moved up to third place but was fourth because of his position at 20 laps. Ishima was running 10th in the early stages, but gradually picked-up the pace and finished fifth. Tsuda was sixth, Hasegawa ninth and Murase 14th in the ST1000 class.
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