Ryuichi Kiyonari has taken provisional pole position for the tenth round of the World Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch after an enjoyable dice with Noriyuki Haga in the final ten minutes.
Prevailing in a session littered with various incidents, Kiyonari kept his Ten Kate Honda pointing in the right direction to gradually lower his best lap over the hour and eventually edge Haga by a mere tenth of a second.
Although perhaps no surprise given Brands Hatch represents something of an adoptive home for the double British Superbike Champion, Kiyonari quickly dipped below Haga's fastest lap from free practice, his time of 1min 26.308secs keeping him top for much of the hour.
Kiyonari's cause was helped slightly by a lengthy red flag period for Shinichi Nakatomi, who experienced a heavy off coming out of Surtees and broke some of the momentum that was building up.
Once underway again, it took Haga until the 52nd minute of the session to knock Kiyonari off the top of the timesheets with a strong 1min 26.144secs. However, Kiyonari's response with four minutes remaining propelled him back to the forefront, prompting Haga to slide off at Paddock Hill Bend as he attempted his final flying effort.
It was a good session all round for former British Superbike riders with Yukio Kagayama defying a steady start to the weekend to go third fastest, while Gregorio Lavilla ran as high as second before eventually settling for a still impressive sixth fastest.
That left him marginally behind the best of the Ducatis, which surprisingly came in the shape of Max Biaggi and Jakub Smrz, both riders making significant gains on their form in first free practice.
Troy Corser was probably the most familiar face inside the top ten in seventh as several more fancied riders seemed to be otherwise struggling. Indeed, with Troy Bayliss down in 12th, Max Neukirchner – who suffered a brief tumble – 14th and Carlos Checa 16th, it leaves all three title pretenders with some work to do to get them back up the order in final qualifying tomorrow.
As such, Karl Muggeridge made a welcome appearance inside the top ten for the second time today, ahead of wild-card rider Tom Sykes, who continued to show well as he adapts to the World Superbike format for the first time. Fonsi Nieto rounds out the top ten.
Other than Haga, Nakatomi and Neukirchner, Ruben Xaus was another to underside off the circuit on the way to 11th place, while Lorenzo Lanzi was also on his feet midway through the session after crashing at Druids.
With Simon Andrews having withdrawn from the weekend with injury, Chris Walker flies the flag alongside Sykes, the World Superbike returnee ending the session in 21st.