Ryuichi Kiyonari's run to the podium in the opening round of the 2011 MCE British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch was one tinged with sadness following the death of his friend and fellow motorcycle racer Koki Takahashi.
Takahashi, brother of Moto2 rider Yuki Takahashi, was returning from a charity event raising funds for victims of the Japanese tsunami and earthquake when he was involved in a fatal road accident.
As his friend, Kiyonari had hoped to score a win for the 23-year-old but was denied by a mechanical problem in race one, before falling just short in race two with a run to second behind Tommy Hill.
Coming hours after a massive accident in warm-up had almost destroyed his HM Plant Honda, the reigning champion h
as vowed to win for Takahashi at the upcoming Oulton Park round instead.
"Itwas a difficult one for me and the HM Plant Honda team. We had a big crash in warm up, which was unlucky as a rider slowed suddenly in front of me and then I had nowhere to go but crash. There was big damage to the bike so the team had lots of work to do to get it ready again in time for the first race.
“Then in race one I had a problem with the bike and had to stop which was disappointing as I wanted to win, we had been fast over practice and qualifying and I knew we could. In race two I had a big gap to close and I just ran out of time, but I was happy to be on the podium again.
“I wanted to win to dedicate to my friend Kouki Takahashi who died this weekend in an accident back in Japan. We were good friends and so I try and win at Oulton Park for him."