Second place in race two was all that was required for Ryuichi Kiyonari to lift the 2006 British Superbike crown, as Leon Haslam's best was ultimately not quite enough.

With an 18 point deficit heading into the race, Haslam always knew he would be up against it, especially after Kiyo was given the added boost by being moved onto the front row of the grid alongside his championship rival following 'Shakey' Byrne's failure to start.

With a huge hailstorm shortly before the off, the mounting tension around the GP circuit was palpable. As in race one Haslam failed to make the most of his pole position advantage, allowing Johnny Rea to get the jump before a feisty-looking Kiyo dived audaciously down the inside of the pair of them into Druids for the first time to prise the lead away.

Haslam recovered from his jittery start to reclaim second, but already his title chances were looking slim, with Rea third ahead of Karl Harris, Tommy Hill, a slow-starting Michael Rutter and Gregorio Lavilla.

Haslam soon reeled his HM Plant Honda rival back in, and had a look through Clearways only to think better of it. Already Lavilla's bid for glory was over though, the Spaniard pulling off on the opening lap with mechanical woes, a massive disappointment having headed into the weekend leading the championship.

The top two, meanwhile, were continuing to go at it hammer-and-tongs at the front, with Harris past Rea for third and no doubt keen to protect the back of his title-chasing team-mate up ahead. A momentary twitch from the race leader on lap five was all that was necessary for Haslam to sweep through, and with that he was gone. Kiyo, though, knew all he had to do was finish second and the crown would be his, especially with Harris - although closing - extremely unlikely to challenge behind.

Within two laps Haslam had eked out a 1.6s advantage, and two laps later that lead had more than doubled, with Kiyo beginning to look increasingly ragged and being shadowed by his team-mate almost a second in arrears, Rea fourth, Hill fifth and an impressive Michael Laverty sixth from 16th on the grid.

With Haslam streaking away out front and Kiyo just nursing it home, Harris' rear gunner role was bringing him under attack from Rea who, if the rumours are to be believed, is also strongly tipped to steal the Yorkshireman's seat next year. Within a lap the Irishman was through, though any attack on future team-mate Kiyonari would be checked by the third red flag of the day following an accident involving sixth-placed Hill at the bottom of Graham Hill Bend.

Happily the Virgin Mobile Yamaha ace escaped with only a broken rib and split tongue, leaving second-placed Kiyonari to celebrate after sealing the highly-coveted British Superbike title at the third time of asking by the slimmest advantage of just eight points.

Haslam ran out the race winner by almost nine seconds in the end, with Rea completing the podium in third - and with it clinching fourth in the championship by a narrow four point margin - ahead of Harris, Laverty, James Haydon, Billy McConnell, Rutter, Glen Richards and Ben Wilson.

"Obviously I am disappointed with the first race and the red flag," Haslam said afterwards, left to rue the crash while leading at Silverstone two weeks earlier that had arguably cost him the crown. "I did what I had to do in the second race though and won. I am disappointed for the fans and the team because they have been awesome this year."

"You can't put it down to just one race though," he added magnanimously. "It's about the whole championship and Kiyo deserved it. He has been on-form all year. I've had a good season and we'll have it next year."

"It has not been a nice day for me," a crestfallen Lavilla added. "In the first race I had some contact with Harris which took out my front brake lever - there was nothing I could do. It was a fast crash and left me in pain for the second race.

"I then wanted to go out and do my best for the team but unfortunately I had some engine problems. I am gutted, but these things happen sometimes - that's racing, it was just pure bad luck. GSE are an unbelievable team with great sponsors in Airwaves and I really want to thank everybody."

BSB race results (2) - Brands Hatch:

1. Leon Haslam
2. Ryuichi Kiyonari
3. Johnny Rea
4. Karl Harris
5. Michael Laverty
6. James Haydon
7. Billy McConnell
8. Michael Rutter
9. Glen Richards
10. Ben Wilson