2013 All Japan Road Race Championship

  • All Japan Road Race Championship Round 9, Suzuka
  • JSB1000
  • Date: 3 November, 2013
  • Circuit: Suzuka (5.821 km)

Yanagawa 2nd in Race 1, Takes the Championship Lead!
In Race 2, Yanagawa 2nd, Watanabe 3rd for Double Kawasaki Podium.
Yanagawa Misses Title By A Single Point.

#87 Akira Yanagawa

Report

Qualifying
Knock-out style qualifying took place on Saturday. Team Green's Akira Yanagawa notched time a of 2'07.306 to secure the 5th place on the grid. Teammate Kazuki Watanabe, who had scored a 2'07.223, the fastest time in Friday's practice sessions, managed a 2'07.891, slotting into the 6th position. He had hoped to better his time, but successive red-flag interruptions threw off his rhythm. Still, he and Yanagawa both advanced to the Q2 session.

The top 10 riders had a short 15 minutes to attempt to better their qualifying times. Watanabe set a quick lap of 2'07.233, just shy of his Friday time, to take over the 5th position from his teammate. Yanagawa's time of 2'07.767 would see him start from the 6th position, meaning both Kawasaki machines would line up on the second row for Race 1 and 2.

Race 1
Race 1 took place under light cloud cover, dispelling any fear of rain. Yanagawa and Watanabe charged into Turn 1 almost side by side, but by the end of the lap it was Yanagawa with the advantage, crossing the line in 5th, with Watanabe on his heels in 6th. On Lap 3 Yanagawa moved past Takuya Tsuda (SUZUKI), to slip in behind Takumi Takahashi (HONDA). Heading into Lap 5, Yanagawa took Takahashi at the end of the main straight, but Takahashi fought back between the "S" Curves and Degner Curve, only to be headed by Yanagawa once more between the Spoon Curve and the 130R. While locked in this back-and-forth battle, Yanagawa's lap time was a blistering 2'06.776, the fastest lap of Race 1.

Watanabe was locked in the second group, battling with Tatsuya Yamaguchi (HONDA). On Lap 3, he set a time in the 2'07s and tried to chase down the top group, but he got pulled back into a battle and his times dropped into the low 2'08s.

Going down the home straight on Lap 6, Yanagawa was glued to the tail of Kosuke Akiyoshi (HONDA). He slipped past him going into Turn 1 to take the 2nd spot, then closed in the back of Katsuyuki Nakasuga (YAMAHA). He was able to move past Nakasuga the next time they went through Turn 1, but in the ensuing battle they touched bikes and trying to avoid crashing, Yanagawa lost a few positions. Now in 5th place, Yanagawa wasted no time chasing down the leaders. He took 4th place on Lap 8, then on Lap 9 he notched the fastest speed of the race (305 km/h) and took over the 3rd place spot. The knuckle-whitening battle continued, with positions changing every corner. Yanagawa, finally took the number 2 spot on Lap 12 and set off after Nakasuga, but a fallen rider going into the last lap brought out the red flags and the race ended one lap early.

Yanagawa finished 2nd. Watanabe, who had finally been able to shake off Yamaguchi, took the checkers in 7th. With 25 points for his 2nd place finish, Yanagawa moved up to the top spot in the championship rankings.

Race 2
Race 2 was delayed 10 minutes, starting at 3:30pm. Yanagawa had moved to the top of the standings, but by a slim 2-point margin. Takahashi, a further 2 points down in 3rd position, was also in striking distance of the title.

Watanabe, who had been in good form all week, lined up at the 5th spot on the grid, one ahead of Yanagawa. But Yanagawa's rocket start let him get by his teammate going into the first corner, and by the end of the first lap he was in 3rd, with Watanabe following in 4th. After Takahashi got past Watanabe, the top group was made up of Akiyoshi, Nakasuga, Yanagawa and Takahashi. The four bikes lapped at about the same pace, in the mid 2'07s, with Takahashi and Yanagawa locked in a fierce side-by-side battle as they counted down the laps.

Things got shaken up on Lap 4. The rain which had been holding out finally let go, bringing out the red diagonal cross. When race leader Akiyoshi put up his hand to signal that the race should be stopped, the whole top group slowed. While they assumed that the race would be red-flagged, Watanabe, still carrying speed, blew past them all to take over the top spot.

In the ensuing confusion, Yanagawa who had been moved down to 6th place, got back on the gas. He first dispatched Akiyoshi, then moved past Yamaguchi the following lap. On Lap 8 he got in front of Takahashi to recover 2nd position. Despite hitting a top speed of 297 km/h, reeling in Nakasuga, who was 4 seconds ahead, was no easy task.

Meanwhile, Watanabe was enjoying his first run at the head of the field, but was soon relegated to 4th place. On Lap 11 he moved past Takahashi in the chicane securing a podium spot. In the final laps of the race, he dropped the hammer, lapping in the 2'07s to break away from Takahashi and score his first podium finish in the top class during his rookie season.

Yanagawa was unable to close the gap that had opened up during the confusion, and like in Race 1, took the checkers in 2nd place. Despite the additional 25 points, he finished out the season ranked 2nd, missing the title by a single point. It would have been the first Kawasaki championship in this series in 14 years. But having two Kawasaki riders on the podium hadn't happened since Hitoyasu Izutsu and Tamaki Serizawa shared a podium in 2000, so it was still a brilliant way to finish off the season.

  • #87 Akira Yanagawa
  • #50 Kazuki Watanabe
  • #87 Akira Yanagawa & #50 Kazuki Watanabe

Akira Yanagawa (2nd/2nd) :

"After moving to the top of the rankings in Race 1, I had planned to fight for the championship at the end of Race 2. But the sudden rain threw everything into confusion and I missed out on the title. It's especially frustrating because the race started off so well. Getting hurt at the beginning of the season meant that I couldn't push as hard as I would have liked, but I was slowly getting back up to speed in the last half of the season, and just came up a bit short. But the machine has definitely improved. We've never tested at Suzuka, but I was able to set the fastest lap and battle in the top group. So I think we will have a strong package going into next season and I will be able to carry this momentum going forward.
To all the fans who have been cheering me on, my team, who did a fantastic job setting up my bike, and my friends and family, I'm sorry we came so close but just missed the title. Please think of this 2nd place result as a springboard for next season. Thank you all for your support!"

Kazuki Watanabe (7th/3rd) :

"I struggled a bit in Race 1 and I just had to tough it out. Thanks to the rain in Race 2, I was able to jump to the front, but I wasn't able to hold onto my advantage. Still, I was in position to finish on the podium at the beginning of the race, and in the end I was able to follow Yanagawa to finish 3rd. This is my first year competing in the JSB1000 class, so I'm happy to have been able to finish on the podium. I want to keep this momentum going next season, so please be sure to cheer me on!"

Toshiro Shakado, Team Manager :

"After finishing 2nd in Race 1 and moving to the top spot in the rankings, the championship was within our grasp. But for the bit of rain in Race 2, our dream might have been realised, but unfortunately the title eluded us. However, in that same Race 2, Watanabe was able to score a podium in his first season in the top class. And the guys were able to achieve the first Kawasaki double-podium since 2000, which is a remarkable result in itself. This was the first season for us to run two bikes, and I think the team made excellent progress. We are in a good position going into next season. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to all the fans who cheered for us this season, and everyone who helped us. Thank you very much!"

  • #87 Akira Yanagawa
  • #50 Kazuki Watanabe

Results

Race1

Pos. No. Rider Machine
1 1 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha YZF-R1
2 87 Akira Yanagawa Kawasaki ZX-10R
3 12 Takuya Tsuda Suzuki GSX-R1000L3
4 4 Kosuke Akiyoshi Honda CBR1000RR
5 634 Taku Takahashi Honda CBR1000RR
6 104 Tatsuya Yamaguchi Honda CBR1000RR
7 50 Kazuki Watanabe Kawasaki ZX-10R
8 39 Daisaku Sakai BMW S1000RR
9 01 Osamu Deguchi Kawasaki ZX-10R
10 32 Yoshihiro Konno Suzuki GSX-R1000L3
11 33 Takuya Hujita Yamaha YZF-R1
12 16 Mitsuhiro Yoshida Honda CBR1000RR
13 132 Koji Teramoto Suzuki GSX-R1000L3
14 57 Koji Kitaguchi Honda CBR1000RR
15 30 Tsuyoshi Nishinaka Honda CBR1000RR
16 21 Masao Kuboyama Honda CBR1000RR
17 18 Tomomasa Nakamura Honda CBR1000RR
18 35 Takeshi Tamura Suzuki GSX-R1000L2
19 23 Hirotaka Harada Kawasaki ZX-10R
20 36 Daigoro Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000

Race2

Pos. No. Rider Machine
1 1 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha YZF-R1
2 87 Akira Yanagawa Kawasaki ZX-10R
3 50 Kazuki Watanabe Kawasaki ZX-10R
4 634 Taku Takahashi Honda CBR1000RR
5 4 Kosuke Akiyoshi Honda CBR1000RR
6 104 Tatsuya Yamaguchi Honda CBR1000RR
7 12 Takuya Tsuda Suzuki GSX-R1000L3
8 39 Daisaku Sakai BMW S1000RR
9 32 Yoshihiro Konno Suzuki GSX-R1000L3
10 33 Takuya Hujita Yamaha YZF-R1
11 132 Koji Teramoto Suzuki GSX-R1000L3
12 57 Koji Kitaguchi Honda CBR1000RR
13 30 Tsuyoshi Nishinaka Honda CBR1000RR
14 16 Mitsuhiro Yoshida Honda CBR1000RR
15 21 Masao Kuboyama Honda CBR1000RR
16 36 Daigoro Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000
17 18 Tomomasa Nakamura Honda CBR1000RR
18 23 Hirotaka Harada Kawasaki ZX-10R
19 19 Takashi Toda BMW S1000RR
20 74 Makoto Kitaori Honda CBR1000RR

2013 All Japan Road Race Championship Standings

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