Following Daijiro Kato's tragic death from his injuries at the 2003 MotoGP season opener at Suzuka, Fausto Gresini, Telefonica and HRC announced on the Thursday before the Spanish GP (round three) that they would continue as a two-rider team and had signed a relative unknown, 20-year-old Japanese Supersport champion Ryuichi Kiyonari, to replace the #74.
With Kato's full factory 2003 spec RCV being given to Sete Gibernau, Kiyonari rode the Spaniard's 2002 'customer' machine from round four, the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, onwards and - although appearing slightly overwhelmed at times - took a best finish of 11th from his 13 race starts.
Realising that MotoGP may have been too much too soon, HRC then placed Kiyonari with its official British Superbike team for 2004, where he soon began to look much more comfortable - and fast.
Kiyonari clinched the BSB crown in both 2006 and 2007 before being promoted to Honda's factory backed Hannspree Ten Kate team in the World Superbike championship, where he will ride alongside former MotoGP star Carlos Checa and reigning WSS champion Kenan Sofuoglu.
2008: Graduates to the World Superbike championship with Hannspree Ten Kate Honda.
2007: British Superbike champion with HM Plant Honda.
2006: British Superbike champion with HM Plant Honda.
2005: BSB with the official Honda team. Returns to MotoGP for a one-off ride replacing the injured Troy Bayliss at Camel Honda during the season-ending Valencian GP. Qualifies 16th and finishes 12th.
2004: Moves to BSB with the official Honda team.
2003 : 2nd in the Sugo World Supersport round as a wild-card but is then propelled into the MotoGP spotlight when he is signed by Telefonica Movistar Honda to replace the late Daijiro Kato. Takes a best finish of 11th during his 13 races.
2002 : All Japan Champion ST600 class (Supersport). 10th JSB 1000 Class All Japan Championship. Winner of round 8 All Japan Superbike Championship at Tanaka International (Kiyonari's only Superbike race of the 2002 season)
2001 : 16th in the 250cc All Japan Championship
2000 : Joined Team Kotake RSC. 20th in the 250cc All Japan Championship. 2nd in the Suzuka 8 Hours XF class
1999 : 23rd in the 125cc All Japan Championship.
1998 : 26th in the 125cc All Japan Championship.
1997 : Tsukuba Championship GP125B class Champion
1996 : Suzuka and Tsukuba GP80cc class Champion
1991-1995 (9-13) Kiyonari was the first student of the Suzuka Racing School (SRS-J). As a member of the SRS-J, he took part in local GP80cc races
1988 -1990 (6-8 years old) Began riding a motocross bike and participated in MX races with his friends