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Red-hot Ryuichi Kiyonari upheld his magnificent Oulton Park record as the Japanese star powered through from row four to clinch victory in the opening MCE British Superbike race.

Kiyonari started from 10th position on the grid on the Buildbase BMW after a spill at Brittens in Q2 prevented him from registering a time in Q3, but the triple BSB champion rode a blistering race to take a deserved win by 0.496s from pole man Josh Brookes on the Milwaukee Yamaha.

Championship leader Shane 'Shakey' Byrne finished third, two seconds down on Kiyo, with Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha), Dan Linfoot (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) and Tyco Suzuki's John Hopkins completing the top six.

Byrne shot into the lead off the line but Brookes edged ahead at Island, running slightly wide and allowing the Kawasaki rider through at Shell Oils.

Chris Walker made a strong start to slot into third on the GBmoto Kawasaki followed by Linfoot, Bridewell and Hopkins.

Kiyonari, though, was the man on the move and had forced his way into fifth on lap five behind Bridewell as Brookes made a decisive pass on Byrne at Lodge.

The BMW rider got past Bridewell at the beginning of lap six and set his sights on Linfoot, quickly picking up another place to take third with Brookes now holding an advantage of 0.5s at the front over Byrne.

The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider was soon under serious pressure from Kiyonari and the rejuvenated BSB favourite made his move into Lodge on lap 10.

The front three were now clear of Bridewell, Linfoot and Hopkins, with Walker's race coming to a premature end when he slid off at Lodge on lap seven.

Kiyonari was clearly a man on a mission and he slashed the deficit to Brookes by the time they reached Shell on lap 11. The inevitable pass came at Hislop's as Kiyo moved into the lead for the first time with a clean pass.

He set a fastest lap in 1m 35.999s to give himself some breathing space over Brookes, with Byrne now looking out of contention in third.

Brookes rallied in the closing stages and set the fastest lap of the race in 1m 35.877s to clinch pole for tomorrow's race, but he could do nothing to prevent Kiyonari winning by half a second.

A battered and bruised Byrne had to settle for third but still holds a commanding lead at the top of the championship.

Behind Bridewell, Linfoot and Hopkins, Peter Hickman finished an excellent seventh on the RAF Reserves Honda followed by Josh Waters (Tyco Suzuki), Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) and Howie Mainwaring (Quattro Plant Kawasaki).

Lightning struck twice for Michael Rutter, who came off again at Lodge after being caught out at the same corner in Q2.