Brands Hatch British Superbikes: Rizla Suzuki team boss thanks Atsushi Watanabe

Published: 09 October 2008

Jack Valentine has paid publicly thanked Atsushi Watanabe for his services in 2008 after it was revealed earlier this week that the Japanese rider would be moving to the Relentless Suzuki camp for next year.

Watanabe has had a difficult first season in BSB with the Rizla Suzuki team, rummaging up his best finishing position of seventh at Cadwell Park.

And after Valentine lost Tom Sykes a month ago to the factory Yamaha World Superbike team, he will be on the look out to find a second rider to partner Sylvain Guintoli at Rizla Suzuki in 2009 with the departure of Watanabe.

Valentine said: “Atsu is one of the nicest people I have ever met but unfortunately he will not be racing for our team in 2009.

“I am pleased to say that he will remain within the Suzuki family however and in British Superbikes.

“The whole team thanks him for his efforts and wishes him the very best for the future."

Watanabe returned the favour, thanking his current team for their efforts in ’08 and hoped a season of learning the British tracks would serve him well in 2009.

"I am very grateful to Crescent for bringing me to the British Superbike series,” the two-time Japanese Superbike champion said.

“I have learnt much this year that I hope I will be able to use this to get good results next season. I am very happy to be staying with Suzuki and in BSB in 2009."

Valentine also spoke of his hopes for the weekend ahead the team prepares for their final round with Sykes and Watanabe.

Valentine added: "This is the last round of the season and we are determined to put on a show for the Rizla Suzuki fans.

“Tom wants to win as it is the only way he can keep the pressure on for second place in the Championship.

“While there is still something to race for we will be pushing hard.

"Atsu wants to finish his debut season in BSB on a high and we have seen glimpse of what he is capable of - I hope he can pull something out of the bag as he has already raced at Brands.

“The Indy circuit isn't ideal as back markers will be coming into play, but we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“I'm really looking forward to finishing the season with success."