Team Yoshimura Suzuki's Atsushi Watanabe raced to a hard-fought seventh place in the second-round Japanese Superbike Championship at Suzuka, despite an electrical problem slowing up his 2005-model GSX-R1000.

Watanabe, who qualified on the front row in third position, made a good start in the race, taking the first corner second behind leader Takeshi Tsujimura (Honda) and ahead of Yamaha's Shin-ichi Nakatomi.

But 11 laps in to the race, his machine developed a mystery electric problem which halted his progress.

Said Watanabe, who still holds fourth in the series, said: "My GSX-R was getting better in every session and my race time was faster than on last year's machine. If we'd had more time, the GSX-R would have been even better today."

Team Manager Fujio Yoshimura said: "The 2005-model GSX-R1000 has very good performance - more than our 2004 racing-version - but the new one will improve more. Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki had a good race today, but we need just a little more time for testing. We have planned some further tests before the next round and will have a better race."

Japan Superbike Results: 1 Shin-ichi Ito (Honda). 2 Tatsuya Yamaguchi (Honda). 3 Shin-ichi Nakatomi (Yamaha). 4 Takeshi Tsujimura (TSR Honda). 5 Akira Yanagawa (Kawasaki). 6 Osamu Deguchi (Honda). 7 Atsushi Watanabe (Yoshimura Suzuki). 8 Naoki Matsudo (Honda). 9 Toshiyuki Hamaguchi (Honda). 10 Takashi Yasuda (Honda).

Championship Points (after 2 rounds): 1 Ito 40, 2 Yanagawa 23, 3 Tsujimura 28, 4 Watanabe 22, 5 Deguchi 21, 6 Yamaguchi 17.

Report and photo: Hiro Nakamura

Source: Team Suzuki Press Office

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