Twelve victories and five other podium finishes from nine front row starts would ordinarily guarantee the British Superbike Championship title. However, for 2005, the bar has been raised in the already ultra-competitive Bennetts-sponsored series.
Despite having racked up such an impressive tally, HM Plant Honda Racing's Ryuichi Kiyonari is still forced to fight for the crown at the final round of the series at Brands Hatch this weekend. The championship is going down to the wire for the two 20-lap races at the 2.6-mile GP track at the Kent circuit.
With a deficit of just 13 points from championship leader, Gregorio Lavilla, Kiyonari is focussing on winning both legs of the event for overall victory. He has already proved himself capable over the Kent circuit's Indy track by claiming two first place finishes there at this year's season opener.
Kiyonari's talent aboard the HRC-prepared CBR1000RR Fireblade has had fans out of their seats at many of this season's events. He is hoping to further prove himself as a master craftsman aboard the HM Plant Honda at the final round of the year. The rest is down to luck on the day - and hoping that Lavilla will finish lower than second position in at least one of the day's races.
After narrowly missing out on the championship over the past three years, Kiyonari's HM Plant Honda Racing team-mate Michael Rutter had been determined to redress the balance this season. However, a downturn in fortunes since round nine at Silverstone means that the elusive crown is again out of his reach in 2005.
Despite leading the championship for almost half of the season, the best the Midlander can now hope for is to finish equal on points with the team's Japanese contender. Even to do this, would be nothing short of miraculous. However, with high stakes and close competition, it is not out of the question.
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I will be trying very hard this weekend to win the championship for Honda and HM Plant. The GP circuit at Brands Hatch is difficult and a lot of the riders are fast there. All I can do is try my best and hope that the CBR1000RR Fireblade and Michelin tyres continue to provide me with the strongest package on the track."
Michael Rutter: "This weekend will be difficult for me, because I did really want to win the championship. Obviously, that's now impossible, but that doesn't mean that I'm just giving up. I really like the GP circuit at Brands Hatch and I'll be aiming for victory to end the season on a high."