Triple BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari returned to winning ways at the Scottish circuit of Knockhill this weekend, as he secures BMW’s first ever win and double podium in the MCE BSB series. Shane Byrne managed to hold off the Japanese rider in race two to secure his sixth win of the season.
|Kiyonari returned to winning ways in Scotland
Photo: MCE BSB
Kiyonari dominated proceedings in race one, leading the race from the lights to the flag as he got a stunning start from pole position on his Buildbase BMW. Despite the best efforts from Byrne the Japanese rider led the 30 lap race with style and confidence, building up a 1.6s lead by the eighth lap.
Race one was over early on for Lloyds British GBmoto’s James Ellison as a collision with Stuart Easton on the third lap at Taylors hairpin saw the Kendal rider crash out of the race. The incident was under investigation throughout race one and it was announced Easton would have to slip down three grid positions to seventh for race two.
By the tenth lap a six way battle for second looked to be occurring however this ended with the two Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s of Byrne and Easton battling it out for the final two podium spots, a battle which saw Byrne come out on top. In a tough race for Tyco Suzuki as Hopkins was running down in 12th position, Josh Waters crashed out at Taylors Hairpin on lap 14.
Kiyonari crossed the line 4.8s ahead of Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team-mates Byrne and Easton to take his first win in British Superbikes since Snetterton in 2011.
Setting the fastest lap in race one meant Byrne started from pole position for race two and was determined to not mess up his start this time round. Ahead of Kiyonari and Chris Walker the PBM rider got a stunning start off the line and led into Seat Curves .
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Easton also got a strong start and was running in fourth on the opening lap. James Westmoreland and Barry Burrell didn’t make it past the opening lap as the paid collided and crashed out at Taylors Hairpin, making it a tough end to a positive weekend for Westmoreland’s side of the BMW garage. Josh Brookes slipped down the order on the fourth lap to sit between Walker and team-mate Bridewell in fifth position, unable to fight for the victory on his Milwaukee Yamaha.
It then became a battle of the triple champions as Byrne and Kiyonari went out on their own, with the BMW hunting down the Kawasaki for the first half of the race. By the 20th lap Kiyonari had caught and passed Byrne, however his lead wasn’t for long as he seemed to lose grip on the rear of his RR at the final hairpin, gifting the lead back to Byrne.
Despite Kiyonari’s best efforts in the final laps, Byrne was able to hold off the Japanese rider to take the victory and extend his championship lead: “Its fair to say Kiyo’s been the man to beat all weekend, he’s been riding absolutely phenomenal and his pace, lap after lap, so fast and we’ve struggled a little bit all weekend which is really strange cause last year we did the double here and the pace was really good, we’ve been chasing the front feeling the whole weekend and we made another big change for race 2, I thought we’ve just gotta go out and do it and then Kiyo caught me and then went past me and when he made his mistake I just thought oh quick go go go go go, but yeah he didn’t really relent and the gap stayed really low right ’til the end.”
Kiyonari clearly had the pace to win the second race of the day, what would have been his first double win since Oulton Park 2010 as he set a new lap record on the final lap: “Disappointed but I’m happy with the podium. Shakey’s very fast, I just tried to follow I just tried to pass but yeah also I did many mistake and yeah, everything’s my fault an next time ill try to make no mistakes and make sure I try to win again. Brands Hatch is my favourite track, not easy but try to get a podium or a win or a better result.”
Walker rounded out the podium after modifications to his throttle after race one made it easier to rider: “To be honest I though race to would be much more difficult so I was expecting it to be maybe fifth or sixth. I didn’t get the best of starts but managed to get the best of Easton early on and that was important so I just dug in. The first race I kept putting the bike wide open with breaking my finger on Friday so for this race they lightened the throttle and I stuck it back on the box.”