Having played host to his two British Superbike title clinchers in 2005 and 2006, Ryuichi Kiyonari continued his love affair with Brands Hatch as he swept to provisional pole position for the tenth round of the World Superbike Championship.

Although the Japanese rider has been keen to play down any advantage he might have over the competition this weekend, the second fastest time in free practice was an early indicator to what would follow later in the day.

Hitting the front of the pack early on, Noriyuki Haga may have stolen back the initiative with eight minutes, but Kiyonari responded soon after to put himself in a prime position to at least challenge for a maiden front row starting slot tomorrow.

Still, Kiyonari was refusing to credit his time in BSB as the reason for his raw pace, while he is confident that he can go quicker as the weekend progresses too.

"I think it's so far, so good! The bike felt great in the first practice session this morning and that continued this afternoon and I was able to make some fast laps quite quickly.

"But it is completely different to the bike I was riding in British Superbikes last year - and my time today was faster, I think. It was also quite windy today and I was still making some mistakes, so there is plenty of room to improve tomorrow."

However, while Kiyonari is returning to a circuit he knows well, the same cannot be said of Ten Kate Honda team-mate Carlos Checa, who has the novelty of having to learn a track this season that most of his rivals have otherwise experienced in some form.

Indeed, after ending up 16th on the provisional grid, Checa admits he is finding it difficult getting to grips with the challenge Brands Hatch poses.

"Obviously it is my first time here, and although I have been improving my times all day, I still need to find one second to be near the front. There are some uphill areas of the circuit where I need to carry more speed, so there are certainly places where I can improve tomorrow."


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