Ryuichi Kiyonari secured a podium finish on his return to the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch, although the weekend would end in disappointment for the HM Plant Honda rider after he was forced out of race two.
Kiyonari led for much of the opening race before a late move for the lead by Tommy Hill left him with second place, although there was disappointment in the second race when an ignition issue forced him to retire.
Despite that retirement, Kiyonari sits fifth in the championship standings after the first weekend of the year.
"I was a bit disappointed with my last laps of the first race as I had a good start,” he said. “I was having a few problems with the setting as the traction control was affecting the tyre life during the race. I knew I needed to be consistent with the lap times and that was my aim for race two.
“In the second race I really wanted to challenge for the win, but we had an ignition problem and I had to stop. Of course I am disappointed but now I am looking forward to Thruxton and trying to get the win there."
Team-mate Josh Brookes also endured a mixed weekend, taking fifth in race one and setting the fastest lap to secure pole for race two. However, he crashed out of race two after losing the front end of the bike at Druids.
“Today hasn't been the best for me,” he said. “In race one I wanted to push hard but I couldn't, so I needed to try and figure out why. I know that I can do fast laps, but I needed to do them all of the way through the race. I was happy to be starting from pole in the second race after setting the fastest lap time in race one, but I didn't get the start I wanted.
“Tommy (Hill) passed me and that was ok, as I thought I could have a go back, but I just had a few moments. At Druids I tried too hard, it's as simple as that. I went in too hot and just lost the front. It has not all been bad though as we have learnt a lot about the HM Plant Honda Fireblade Superbike and I am already in a better position than I was this time last year.”
The Honda team did enjoy a fine start to the Superstock 1000 season, with Steve Plater securing a comfortable victory to kick-start his campaign.