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Wantanabe to race speedway

Published: 04 December 2009

Updated: 24 November 2014

Former Suzuka Eight Hour race winner and ex-BSB racer Atsushi Watanabe is training for a new career – as a racer in Auto Race, Japan’s municipally-managed, gambling-led, speedway-style racing.

According to his former Relentless by TAS Suzuki team boss Philip Neill, Watanabe is undergoing a seven-month training programme, during which time he has little contact with the outside world!

Auto Race bikes have 600cc Suzuki-made AR600 ‘SEAR’ twin-cylinder engines with two-speed gearboxes, no rear suspension and no brakes.

Racing takes place at six different circuits in Japan - all 500m ashpalt banked ovals.

Bikes reach 90mph on the straights, 60mph in the corners and  the races feature eight riders in six-lap races in a knock-out tournament format.

With gambling predominant, riders have to remain in dormitories during each meeting – which can last up to five days - to prevent race fixing.

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