The heat is on in the battle for the 2005 Bennetts British Superbike
Championship between series leader Gregorio Lavilla and HM Plant Honda
Racing's Ryuichi Kiyonari. Today's qualifying sessions were vital as the
title rivals prepared for tomorrow's final two races of the season over
the 2.6-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
With only 13 points between the Spanish and Japanese stars, there is
still everything to play for in tomorrow's two 20-lap races. However,
Kiyonari will be forced to start from the third row of the grid after
qualifying in tenth position, alongside his HM Plant Honda Racing
team-mate Michael Rutter.
Kiyonari was in a provisional 11th place with a time of 1:27.485 after
this morning's first qualifying period. The 23-year-old worked hard with
his crew on the set-up of the HRC-prepared CBR1000RR Fireblade between
sessions. He was rewarded with an improved position and time of 1:26.922
- one second down on pole position James Haydon.
Rutter maintained station in ninth place despite also improving his time
in the afternoon qualifying session. The 32-year-old Midlander powered
the HM Plant Honda around the Kent circuit 0.648 seconds faster than he
had done in the first session to remain close to his team-mate on row
HM Plant Honda Racing has already been a dominant force during
qualifying for the world's leading domestic Superbike championship.
Three pole positions apiece for Kiyonari and Rutter - and 11 other front
row starts - have helped to propel the factory Fireblades into second
and third positions respectively in the overall points table.
Kiyonari has also collected the Audi Quattro Performance Award for his
superior positions and results in all aspects of the 13-round
championship. As the rider with the highest number of points for the
best times in qualifying, pole positions, race wins and fastest laps,
the HM Plant Honda Racing star has already secured a decisive advantage
to win an Audi TT Quattro worth £40,000.
Michael Rutter: "With any chance of the championship now gone, I am
hoping to finish my second season with HM Plant Honda Racing on a
positive note. The CBR1000RR Fireblade is going well and we have been
working hard with Michelin to find the best set-up. We've gone well here
in the past, so hopefully we'll be able to carry that form into
tomorrow's two Superbike races."
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "This is a difficult circuit for me. Although I won
both races over the Indy track at the start of the season, I have not
got the same experience over the Grand Prix layout. However, thanks to
the hard work of HM Plant Honda Racing, we are heading in the right
direction. The CBR1000RR feels good in some sections, but my times don't
"We made a step forward in performance at the last round and we've made more improvements here this weekend. I'm absolutely delighted with my Rizla Suzuki. Now we have found what we have been looking for and the GSX-R1000 is a fantastic package that is a pleasure to ride.
- 1. J. Haydon (Suzuki) 1:25.920
- 2. L. Haslam (Ducati) 1:26.038
- 3. K. Harris (Honda-Racing.co.uk) 1:26.270
- 4. G. Lavilla (Ducati) 1:26.331
- 5. D. Thomas (Kawasaki) 1:26.418
- 6. G. Richards (Kawasaki) 1:26.480
- 7. G. Mason (Honda) 1:26.519
- 8. T. Hill (Yamaha) 1:26.674
- 9. M. Rutter (HM Plant Honda Racing) 1:26.700
- 10. R. Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda Racing) 1:26.922