News 23 Aug 2011

Pressure on Kiyonari's defence as BSB Showdown looms after Cadwell

Ryuichi Kiyonari has suffered a difficult BSB title defence during season 2011.

Ryuichi Kiyonari has suffered a difficult BSB title defence during season 2011.

Defending British Superbike Champion Ryuichi Kiyonari could watch the title slip from his grasp as soon as this weekend if he doesn’t reach a top six ‘Showdown’ position at Cadwell Park.

Kiyonari goes into the Holiday Monday ninth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Cadwell Park needing strong results to maintain, or better, his current sixth place in the points standings to ensure that he goes through to the ‘Title-Fighters’ sequence that decides the outcome of the crown.

The reigning champion has struggled in an inconsistent campaign in which his HM Plant Honda teammate Shane Byrne has been a dominant force, winning four times already, to comfortably lead the standings.

Already Byrne is through to the Showdown for the title, as are his nearest rivals, Suzuki riding John Hopkins and Yamaha’s Tommy Hill.

Their strength means that only three places remain, with eight riders, among them Kiyonari who is bidding for a fourth British crown, scrapping for vital points and places in this triple race ninth round at the picturesque Lincolnshire circuit.

“We tested again at Cadwell Park ahead of the races as we needed to make more improvements for this weekend from me and the bike,” Kiyonari said. “This is the home round for me and the team’s home round and I know I need to push here for the championship.

“I have the number one plate and I should be at the front fighting with the other riders. For sure we will be doing everything this weekend to get back on the podium again for myself and the team.

“I want to be winning and I have to try and do that here. The most important thing for me is to be inside the top six for the Showdown.”

The title-deciding system which was introduced last year, to ensure the outcome of country’s premier crown goes to the final round is such that the opening 19 races of the season, run across nine rounds, form the ‘main season’.

From that part, the top six riders in the overall standings after this Cadwell Park round become the ‘Title-Fighters’ and only they can win the crown.

After this round, each of those six riders will have their current points scores deleted, and each will be given 500 points. To this will be added the podium credits that have been accrued to that point, at the rate of three for a race win, two for a second and one for a third.

Kiyonari is sixth in the standings, adrift of both Josh Brookes and Michael Laverty, but only five points up on his former Honda team-mate Michael Rutter who is now riding Ducati and enjoying a strong run of form.

Others in the hunt for a place among the top six are Gary Mason, Jon Kirkham, Peter Hickman, riding the Tyco Honda, and former four times runner-up Chris Walker.

Those riders not making the cut compete for the rest of the season for the consolation Superbike Cup.