Rock supported rider Ryuichi Kiyonari has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he’s back to his winning ways following a sensational victory in what some are already calling the BSB ‘race of the year’. Kiyo took the fight to the current MCE British Superbike championship leader in hot and humid conditions.
The Japanese rider came through a challenging weekend which saw him only qualifying sixth, to blitz his way to the finish line in a thrilling race. Buildbase BMW Motorrad's Kiyonari hunted down the two race leaders - overtaking both - to cross the line on his BMW S 1000 RR with a nailbiting 0.103 lead.
Lee Jackson also made his British Superbike race debut filling in for an injured James Westmoreland, and the young rider proved he was worth the gamble after finishing 16th and 18th in the two races. Jackson had a stunning ride in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 race, which he led for some time and eventually finished third after a nail-biting battle.
The young Lincolnshire lad got off his Superstock S 1000 RR in Parc Ferme and jogged to the garage to form up on the grid for the first British Superbike race, going on to finish 16th.
While race one was warm and dry, by the time race two rolled around conditions had worsened significantly, with the skies to the north almost black and lit by sporadic lightning. The race was started, but soon red-flagged due to a crash. With the weather threatening to close in, it was re-started but lasted not even two laps before being red-flagged again due to rain finally reaching the circuit.
Ryuichi Kiyonari said: “I’m so happy to have another win so soon. I did worry that people might say ‘Kiyo was lucky at Knockhill, but that’s all’ so to win again was a big relief. We had problems this weekend getting the setup right because the chassis is really good, but the weather conditions kept changing. But overnight the mechanics got it working so well and I was fastest in warm up today. I knew I could ride with Shakey, Ellison, Walker – everyone. I relaxed a bit. The race was a bit stop start with the safety car, but I had a great battle with Shakey and I was lucky enough to win.
"I hoped to do the same in race two, but Shakey told me not to be so greedy! Race two was just all over the place with different settings, weather changing and having to guess how it would happen. I predicted there would be more rain so I had a wet setup… but it didn’t quite get that wet. Next time I’ll know better. I’m still learning – I know I’m quite old, but I don’t know everything yet! I’m glad I could win for the team, for BMW Motorrad and for all my fans – thank you.”
Lee Jackson said: “The Superstock race was good, really fun, and very close. I was leading so I had the pace to win, but unfortunately I got beaten up by Jason O’Halloran on track which pushed me back and I couldn’t quite close back down on the front two. And from the podium I had to rush back to the garage to get out in the first BSB race!
“Switching to a Superbike is a big step. At first they don’t seem so different, especially as they’re both BMW S 1000 RRs. But it’s when you get up to peak power, or when you get hard on the brakes… they are amazing motorcycles. I was very glad to get the chance to try it and I’d like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity. It was a long hard weekend, but I don’t feel too bad now. However I think I might be suffering a bit tomorrow!”
Stuart Hicken, team owner, said: “I could not have asked for any more from my riders this weekend – nor from the team. Kiyo was a bit concerned that people might think he’s a Knockhill specialist, but we had confidence he can do it anywhere. And he took another win in what people are already saying might be the race of the season. It was clean, it was fair and it was all in Shakey’s back yard. The second race was interrupted twice, when Kiyo was doing well, but in the end it wasn’t to be. But we leave here in a great position: Kiyo’s fourth in the championship, he’s beaten Shakey twice and he’s on the pace. Bring it on, Thruxton.”