Shane Byrne says he has been left downhearted by the gap between him and pole sitter Ryuichi Kiyonari at the MCE British Superbike season opener at Donington Park.

Byrne put his PBM Kawasaki third on the grid for the first round of the 2015 season but was frustrated to be 0.204s off the Buildbase BMW front runner. The pair had been trading quickest lap times during the free practice sessions, with Byrne getting the smallest of edges on his rival, but he now finds himself behind Kiyonari and James Ellison on the first row.

"I'm a little bit disappointed if I'm honest," Byrne said. "It is always good to get on to the front row and we've achieved that. But when I was on my slow down lap I was thinking, 'I'm two-tenths off, I've done all this work and I'm still two-tenths off.'"

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The defending BSB champion suffered a broken hand while pre-season testing in Spain and was initially a doubt for the 2015 curtain raiser. Byrne has put those fears to rest but says the cause of his lack of pace is down to having limited testing time.

"I'm not going to harp on about being injured and that putting me on the back foot. That is a fact," Byrne said. "If, buts and maybes don't fix anything. The reality is I'm still a bit rusty and I'm not as sharp on the bike as I perhaps should be.

"At this level and racing these guys you can't just hop on to a bike and go half a second faster, it just doesn't happen.

"The problem is I'm trying to get that hard work done over a race weekend and when you've got Kiyonari banging out 1m 29s like they are going out of fashion and all the others are also close you get to a point where you think I need to go fast too and stop focusing on developing certain bits to make the bike better."

Byrne is fully aware he has a tough fight on his hands if he wants to hold on to his BSB crown with Kiyonari in impressive form so early in the season.

To make matters worse for Byrne, his Japanese rival has a strong record around Donington Park after walking away with a double victory in 2014.