Kiyonari marches to Oulton Park win
2 May 2011
Ryuichi Kiyonari has won his first British Superbike race of the season at Oulton Park after methodically working his way through the pack from eighth on the grid.
The Japanese, who famously won all three races at the Lancashire circuit in 2010 to wrap up the title, hadn't been expected to launch a victory challenge from the second row having struggled to make an impression in practice and qualifying.
However, while a modest start left him in eighth position during the early laps, he would systematically claw his way up the order, relieving long-time leader Michael Laverty of the top spot with seven laps remaining.
Proceeding to pull a gap over the competition, the HM Plant Honda rider would finish the race a clear four seconds up on the battle for second position.
Prior to Kiyonari's arrival, Laverty had held the lead from the opening bend, the Swan Yamaha rider making the most of his inherited pole position following the withdrawal of the injured Tommy Hill.
However, he was never able to shake off the attentions of those directly behind him, with Josh Brookes and John Hopkins both applying the pressure, while Stuart Easton, Shane Byrne and eventually Kiyonari would also make their presence felt.
It would take Easton's failed attempt to pass Hopkins for second at the Hizzy's chicane, one that saw him bouncing across the kerbs and the grass and into the path of the following Shane Byrne and Brookes, to break up the group and release Kiyonari up to third, the Japanese rider duly marching the front on lap eleven.
Indeed, having led for more than half the race, Laverty's pace dropped markedly as Hopkins, Easton and Byrne all found their way past within three laps.
Despite being harassed over the final laps by Easton and Byrne, Hopkins held on for a maiden BSB podium in only his third race, while Easton's run to third marks a first rostrum result for the new ZX-10R.
Byrne had to settle for fourth, though he now moves into the lead of the standings in the absence of Hill, while Laverty and Brookes kept a watching brief in fifth and sixth positions.
More than 13 seconds further back, Jon Kirkham put in a fine ride to claim seventh having started down in 15th position, just ahead of Loris Baz, the Frenchman bogging down at the start to drop from third to a low of 11th before fighting back to eighth position.
Gary Mason was another to make strides up the order for ninth position, while Dan Linfoot ran sixth initially before fading to tenth.
Elsewhere, Alex Lowes put in a magnificent performance on the WFR Honda to finish in 12th place as the top EVO rider. More significantly, however, was his fastest race lap, which puts him second on the grid for race two, alongside pole sitter Kiyonari, Brookes and Easton.
Michael Rutter in 11th, Peter Hickman in 13th, James Westmoreland 14th and Martin Jessopp in 15th made up the remaining points' finishers, while Scott Smart and Barry Burrell joined Lowes on the EVO podium.