Ryuichi Kiyonari scored a magnificent double victory in front of thousands
of sun-drenched fans at the first round of the Bennetts British Superbike
Championship at Brands Hatch. The 22-year-old Lincolnshire-based rider led
both 30-lap races from start to finish on his immaculately prepared HM Plant
Honda Racing CBR1000RR. His team-mate Michael Rutter provided ample support
with fourth and second places respectively.
The first Superbike race of the season saw Kiyonari take the holeshot from Glen Richards with Rutter adopting a watching brief in third at the end of a hectic first lap. The Japanese star took the early initiative in the 30-lap race and powered his HM Plant Honda into a commanding position after breaking the lap record on the second and third laps. Maintaining a
comfortable advantage for the majority of the season-opener, Kiyonari was in a class of his own.
Rutter meanwhile was embroiled in a tense battle for second place with
Gregorio Lavilla and Richards. The 31-year-old Midlander lost out in the
battle for the two remaining podium positions after the dicing trio
encountered some backmarkers in the closing stages of the 30-lap Superbike
Leg two opened in similar fashion to the first, with Kiyonari showing a
clean pair of heels to what is generally considered to be the strongest
British Superbike field in years. He set a hot pace with amazing consistency and pulled out a comfortable winning margin on the HRC-prepared factory Fireblade.
The second HM Plant Honda was also on a charge with Rutter determined to
improve on his first race position. Third at the end of lap one, last season 's British Superbike runner-up tracked Sean Emmett before making a
successful passing manoeuvre on lap 15 at Paddock Hill Bend. He used the
superior power and handling characteristics of his CBR1000RR Fireblade in
the second half of the race to take 20 deserved points.
Michael Rutter: "Under the circumstances I was happy with how I performed in the first race. I had to work really hard with the HM Plant Honda to keep up with Lavilla and Richards. However, we knew that we could improve the set-up for race two and so it proved. There was nothing that I could do about Kiyo though. He was superb in both races today and I've got to work hard at Thruxton to close the points gap."
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I am obviously very happy with how things have gone for me today. I felt that I had to get off the line quickly because I was
worried about how fast the other riders are here at Brands Hatch. I was
pleasantly surprised by how far in front I was in each race, because I
actually find this circuit quite challenging. I would like to thank the HM
Plant Honda Racing team for helping to find such a good race set-up which
made all the difference to me. It's good to have made such a good start to
the season and I hope that I can carry this level of performance on to