A sweat-soaked Shinya Nakano rode his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR into a rewarding seventh place in today's Qatar Grand Prix.

After failing to finish in the previous two races, in Japan and Malaysia, Nakano's top ten finish in heat wave conditions came after another consistent, mistake-free performance.

Nakano finished just 1.6s behind Carlos Checa, both riders using Bridgestone tyres, in the 22-lap race won by Valentino Rossi. Bridgestone riders had won the previous two races.

After a sharp start from seventh on the third row, Nakano made a forward move into turn one, before being squeezed back to tenth as the pack battled for early track position.

Nakano passed Yamaha's Toni Elias to be ninth at the end of lap one, and by lap eight had settled into seventh, after going ahead of Roberto Rolfo and race winner in Japan and Malaysia, Loris Capirossi.

Over the final 14 laps Nakano gave chase to Checa, and at one stage closed to within 0.6s of his Spanish rival, with a series of fast, consistent laps on the mostly one-line Losail Circuit.

By the end of the race Nakano had pulled a seven second gap on Elias, to record his eighth top ten finish of the season.

The result consolidates Nakano's tenth place in the World Championship standings with three races remaining.

Nakano was the sole representative for the Kawasaki Racing Team in today's race, following the withdrawal of Olivier Jacque, who a suffered shoulder and neck injury in the opening practice session on Thursday.

Shinya Nakano: #56 - DNF

"I'm happy to finish a race after the problems of the past two weeks. Seventh is okay, I had expected to be closer to the front group, but it wasn't possible today. Once I got behind Checa we had a great race, but I could only follow him, we had the same tyres and the same lap times - it wasn't possible to pass. The Bridgestone tyres were consistent today and the increased top speed of the latest ZX-RR motor a big help. But we still need more acceleration to race the front group. My start was normal but many riders went to the inside, and Rolfo was very strong on the brakes, and we almost touched. I didn't want to take a risk and crash, I wanted to finish this race."
Ichiro Yoda: Technical Manager

"These very hot conditions made this a very tough race for Kawasaki. I'm happy for seventh but also a little disappointed, we anticipated being closer to the front group today. The upgraded motor was a step forward, but we still need to work on controllability and acceleration."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager

"Shinya rode another very consistent race today and seventh is about the level of the our ZX-RR package at the moment. It was very important for the team to finish this race in the top ten and Shinya delivered for us, as he always does when given the opportunity. Keeping Shinya in the top ten of the championship points is now our priority for the remainder of the season."