7 September 2008
Donington: Kiyonari splashes to victory.
Ryuichi Kiyonari kept his cool in terrible weather conditions to claim victory in the second World Superbike race of the weekend at Donington Park.
The race began controversially under heavy rain, although the conditions would only be responsible for three retirements over the course of the 23 laps.
Nonetheless, while Kiyonari looked rather wild as he allowed his Ten Kate Honda to dance beneath him, he was able to resist the attentions of Cal Crutchlow, who smoothly worked his way up the order to ensure a second wild-card podium of the day.
There were initially some doubts as to whether the race would even go ahead after a massive rain shower shortly before the start of the race created rivers across certain parts of the circuit. Nonetheless, the race went ahead as planned, despite some furious gesticulation from several riders over the first lap.
The first few corners were certainly taken gingerly as Kiyonari assumed the lead of the race, ahead of Bayliss, Ruben Xaus, Max Biaggi and Chris Walker.
Indeed, Walker, a renowned wet weather specialist, was charging up the order from 13th on the grid, but he ran wide on the run up to McLeans and skated across the grass. Remarkably he kept it upright, although it did delay a few riders behind as he rejoined the circuit.
Despite the protests, all the riders negotiated the first lap unharmed as the race settled into a rhythm. Still, it was immediately clear who was most comfortable on their bikes as Kiyonari pulled away, followed by Bayliss, Corser and Crutchlow, the HM Plant Honda rider easing up to fifth place by fourth lap. Team-mate Leon Haslam followed in sixth.
Indeed, Crutchlow's smooth riding style was serving him well as he quickly latched onto the back of Corser's Yamaha, eventually snaking past into third at Goddards on lap five.
It meant Crutchlow was soon chasing Bayliss, the Aussie rider seemingly happy to let Kiyonari eke out a comfortable advantage over just a few laps. Crutchlow caught the championship leader but was never close enough for a lunge.
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