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Can King Kiyo's BSB reign continue? - April 6th 2005

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    At the opening round of the 2005 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch, HM Plant Honda Racing's Ryuichi Kiyonari established himself as the king of the Indy circuit with a comfortable double victory. The Japanese rider also obliterated the existing lap record in a time of 0:45.954, and in doing so, laid down the gauntlet for his title rivals - not least team-mate Michael Rutter.

    Last year's championship runner-up Rutter is determined to make this year his year in the world's leading domestic Superbike series. The Leicestershire rider knows that to do that he must start by beating the other HM Plant Honda Racing CBR1000RR Fireblade.

    With both riders already in the top three of the championship, they have already proved the amazing capabilities of the HRC-prepared Fireblades, which have benefited from a strong winter testing and development programme in tandem with Michelin tyres.

    The scene is now set for an exciting showdown at round two as the factory-backed Honda riders go head-to-head with each other and the rest of the ultra-competitive field - but only one will emerge victorious. It is 31-year-old Rutter who has the advantage at Thruxton after scoring first and second positions respectively at the Hampshire circuit last year.

    Michael Rutter: "Thruxton was a good circuit for me last year, so I'm hoping to build on that and get my challenge for the title back on track. At the moment, my team-mate Kiyonari is my biggest threat, but it's reassuring to know that I have the same superior HM Plant Honda Racing machinery as he does. I've been working hard with the team to find the optimum set-up, so I'm confident that I will see more good results this weekend."

    Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I was surprised at winning both races at Brands Hatch and I know that I will still have to work hard this weekend to achieve good results. Michael [Rutter] is a good guy and we are friends off the track, but he is also very fast and I know how much he wants to win. Thruxton was not one of my favourite tracks last year, so I am looking forward to putting lots of laps in during practice to help me prepare for the race."

    Thruxton - vital statistics

  1. Circuit length: 2.356 miles
  2. Superbike lap record: S. Hislop 1:15.889
  3. 2004 BSB race one result: 1. M. Rutter; 2. J.Reynolds; 3. S. Emmett; 13. R. Kiyonari
  4. 2004 BSB race two result: 1. S. Emmett; 2. M. Rutter; 3. G. Lavilla; 8. R. Kiyonari