With nine points separating the top three riders in the 2005 Bennetts
British Superbike Championship, much depended on their qualifying
performances in preparation for the 11th round of the series at Oulton
Park. Championship leader Gregorio Lavilla had the edge over the HM
Plant Honda Racing team-mates of Ryuichi Kiyonari and Michael Rutter
with all still to play for in tomorrow's two 18-lap Superbike races.
Lavilla may have taken his first ever pole position in the closing
stages of this afternoon's second qualifying session, but Kiyonari's
last gasp lap was only a fraction off the Spaniard's impressive time.
The pace was hot for the front row of the grid and the 22-year-old
Japanese star took an eventual third position in a time of 1:36.435 - a
massive 0.8 seconds inside Sean Emmett's lap record.
Kiyonari lies third in his second British Superbike season, but it is
only the second time that he has raced at the 2.692-mile Cheshire
circuit. The winner of the prestigious Suzuka 8-hour endurance race has
missed the regular May Bank Holiday fixture over the past two seasons
through injury. His qualifying position was therefore crucial to his
chances of climbing back on to the podium tomorrow.
The other HM Plant Honda Racing CBR1000RR Fireblade of Michael Rutter
will line up on the third row in 11th position. His time of 1:37.242 was
only 0.93 seconds off pole position, which emphasises how competitive
the world's leading domestic Superbike series has been in recent rounds.
Rutter led the championship until the last event at Cadwell Park two
weeks ago, but he lost his advantage to Lavilla after crashing out of
the second race. The 32-year-old Midlander is only two points in arrears
and he will be hoping to match the form that he has shown at Oulton
earlier in the season when he took first and second places.
Michael Rutter: "This is obviously not an ideal qualifying position for
me with the championship in mind. Kiyo and Lavilla are on the front row,
so I've got a lot of work to do in the races. We have been concentrating
on set-up today and hopefully that will pay off over race distance. The
pressure's on at this time of the season, but I'm confident the form we
have shown here over the past two seasons on the HM Plant Honda will
help me through tomorrow."
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I have relatively little experience of Oulton Park. I
have therefore had to work hard during testing and qualifying for this
event to match the pace of the leading riders. However, I have been
rewarded with a front row qualifying position. This is important for me.
I have to start the races well and hope that I can take my first ever
- 1. G. Lavilla (Ducati) 1:36.312
- 2. T. Hill (Yamaha) 1:36.397
- 3. R. Kiyonari (Honda) 1:36.435
- 4. J. Reynolds (Suzuki) 1:36.508
- 5. G. Richards (Kawasaki) 1:36.537
- 6. L. Haslam (Ducati) 1:36.577
- 7. K. Harris (Honda) 1:36.806
- 8. D. Thomas (Kawasaki) 1:36.895
- 9. J. Haydon (Suzuki) 1:36.904
- 10. G. Mason (Honda) 1:37.014
- 11. M. Rutter (Honda) 1:37.242