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Kiyonari fourth at Croft.

Eleventh on the grid and a best race finish of fourth probably wasn't what Ryuichi Kiyonari was expecting on his return to HM Plant Honda and the British Superbike Championship at Croft.

The former double BSB champion left the series on top at the end of 2007 to join Ten Kate Honda in the World Superbike championship, with whom he took three race wins last season at British tracks Brands Hatch and Donington Park.

This season has been something of a step backwards, with only two podiums and eleventh in the championship - behind team-mates Jonathan Rea (4th) and Carlo Checa (7th) - after 22 of the 26 races.

Kiyonari's popular BSB return in place of the injured Glen Richards was therefore seen as a chance for the Japanese to regain form, having failed to finish in the WSBK top six since May, although the Japanese preferred to label it as a bit of fun.

"Being back with the HM Plant Honda team is a bit like coming 'home',” said Kiyo on Sunday. “We all slotted straight back into things together it was a fun and relaxed weekend.”

Fellow WSBK regulars Karl Muggeridge and Broc Parkes had provided Kiyonari with a target in wild-card BSB appearances of their own this season.

Muggeridge stepped onto the same HM Plant for the Brands Hatch triple header, when he qualified eighth and finished fourth, seventh and sixth in the races. The unique Cadwell Park circuit proved a tougher test for the Australian, with 13th in qualifying followed by seventh and 13th in the races.

But Parkes - best finish of tenth in WSBK this season - had proven it was possible to step in and fight at the very front in BSB, having qualified his Kawasaki second at Brands and then finished runner-up to title leader Leon Camier in all three races.

Against that backdrop, most expected to see Kiyonari at the sharp end of the field at Croft - a circuit he 'loves' and where he won both races at his last visit in 2007 - and many were predicted a thrilling Camier/Kiyonari duel.



Tagged as: Croft , Ryuichi Kiyonari

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Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Race action, Kiyonari, BSB [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Bennetts Suzuki, [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Smiths BMW [Credit: British Superbikes]
Ryuichi Kiyonari, Bennetts Suzuki [Credit: ianhopgoodphotography.net]

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