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Kiyonari leads dominant HM Plant one-two
26 June 2005
Ryuichi Kiyonari made it seven wins from nine starts in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship after a dominant performance from the HM Plant Honda team in the opening race of the day at Knockhill.
Aside from briefly losing the lead to team-mate - and championship leader – Michael Rutter on the run to SEAT Curve on the opening lap, the Japanese ace led the entire race, finishing a comfortable 12.538secs clear of Rutter, who was himself 12.154secs clear of the third placed man.
And it was that battle for third that would keep the attention of the Scottish fans as the Hondas sped off into the distance.
In the early laps the position was held by Dean Thomas, with the Hawk Kawasaki man under pressure from James Haydon before the Rizla Suzuki man crashed out at Scotsman Corner on the fourth lap. Leon Haslam inherited fourth following Haydon's retirement, while Jonathan Rea held fifth and Gregorio Lavilla had fought his way up from twelfth to sixth.
With the two Honda riders building a comfortable lead lap-by-lap, Haslam was desperate to find his way past Thomas and dived up the inside of the green Kawasaki as the two swept into the corner formally known as Duffus Dip at the start of lap seven. However as the two swept left for the second part of SEAT Curve, Thomas cut back inside to keep the position - although he could do nothing about the challenge of the Airwaves Ducati when Haslam then dived up the inside going into the Real Radio Hairpin.
A lap later the hairpin would also see the second Ducati of Lavilla get in on the action as the Spaniard made a daring pass on both Thomas and Rea to briefly take fourth place, but both riders were able to work their way back past on the run up over the line.
However on lap ten, Lavilla was able to make up one place as 'Stormy' Rea dived up the inside of Thomas into Scotsman Corner, the Kawasaki running wide and Thomas losing four places as a result, but Rea himself would hit problems at the same corner a lap later as he went off into the barriers and was forced out – Lavilla now up to fourth and chasing down team-mate Haslam.
With the Airwaves team watching on nervously, Lavilla chased down Haslam and having 'had a look' on more than one occasion, slipped through into the final podium place on lap 19. That left Haslam at the mercy of Michael Laverty on the Stobart Honda who swarmed all over the back of the 22-year-olds Ducati before demoting Haslam to fifth on lap 21.
Laverty was soon challenging Lavilla and slipped through at SEAT Curve to go third and from there pulled away to give Paul Birds team its first podium finish of the season behind Kiyonari and Rutter - while both Airwaves Ducatis found themselves passed by a charging Richards in the closing laps - the Hawk Kawasaki taking fourth from Haslam and Lavilla, the Spaniard dropping behind his team-mate on the final lap.
John Reynolds took seventh ahead of Karl Harris Gary Mason and Dean Thomas, with the leading Cup runner James Buckingham finishing in eleventh.
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