Ryuichi Kiyonari was crowned British champion for the third time after a final round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike series at Oulton Park of high drama and incident.
He ended his season with a winning triple to head a HM Plant Honda one-two in the championship stakes ahead of his team-mate Josh Brookes.
Kiyonari, the winner of seven races in a tough campaign, was delighted with his last round turn-around in fortune.
“I’m very happy to be champion for the third time – it was a big fight all of the way to the end and we were very lucky, but this title means as much to me as the other two,” Kiyonari commented.
“It has been a hard season, nothing has been easy. Every race has been a hard fight but it feels good to leave here as number one. I am very happy, also very tired, but feel very good for myself and my team.”
He had gone into the action at the Cheshire circuit in third place in the standings, but powered into contention as he won the first of the three races, on Saturday afternoon, running ahead of the leader in the title stakes Tommy Hill by almost a second.
That was the first turning point of the weekend for Kiyonari, but, he was to enjoy a slice of good fortune at the expense of Hill as the Worx Suzuki rider made an over eager move to regain the lead from James Ellison on the seventh lap of the first of Sunday’s races.
Hill had made the early running, under pressure from Relentless Suzuki rider Michael Laverty with Ellison third on the Swan Honda from Kiyonari. Ellison was soon duelling with Hill for the lead, trading places, and Ellison had just moved ahead again.
Trying to nose through, to regain the advantage on the inside line at Lodge Corner, Hill clipped Ellison’s bike – they both tumbled, but Hill managed to re-start, only to crash spectacularly again shortly afterwards, extensively damaging his bike.
Four other riders tumbled in the aftermath of that incident and the race was red-flagged. On the res-start, over seven laps, Kiyonari took charge, leading throughout to take the win comfortably from Brookes and Stuart Easton to move ahead, in the title stakes, of Hill who could only sit disconsolately and watch his title dreams fade.
Hill’s team worked wonders to repair his bike putting him on the grid for the final race of the campaign, though with a third row start, while Kiyonari was on pole and soon running out front, having overcome the early challenges of Laverty. He had a few anxious moments as the Safety Car intervened for two laps as marshals dealt with Gary Mason’s crash, but, was back on the pace as the action resumed for real.
Brookes was carving through the pack from seventh on the opening lap, and was soon duelling for fourth with Michael Rutter, whose season was to end shortly afterwards with a technical problem sidelining his RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati. Brookes went through and soon took Laverty to be running in second place and closing within 0.639secs of Kiyonari was taking his seventh victory of the campaign.
Ellison, depite running ride at Hizzy’s midway through the race took third from Laverty with Hill rewarded his team’s work to rebuild his bike.
Kiyonari celebrated the race win, and with it the British title, 649-625 over his Australian teammate Josh Brookes.
“I gave everything to try and catch Kiyo, and went out with a bit of style,” Brookes said. “It is good to finish the season on a high, and I intend to do more next season, by winning the British championship.”
Hill, who had led the title chase for most of the season, finished third overall on 620 points.
The Supersport race at Oulton Park was won by Ben Wilson, while South Australians Glen Richards, Billy McConnell and Paul Young were fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Jason O’Halloran crashed out of podium contention.
Richards also claimed a pair of second places in the Superstock 1000 races contested over the weekend.