HM Plant Honda Racing made a dream start to the 2004 British Superbike Championship season when its Superbike riders put two CBR1000RR Fireblades on the front row of the grid.

Silverstone veteran Michael Rutter demonstrated the remarkable capabilities of the HM Plant Honda Racing Fireblade when he gave the team its maiden pole position with a blistering 1:26.135 lap. The 30-year-old Midlander was safely within his own lap record from 2003 and recorded the fastest speed of the day when he clocked 155.3mph through Silverstone's speed trap.

"It's great to be back on pole again at Silverstone. I really enjoy it here - the circuit seems to suit my style. I was able to do consistent 26s but of course, the hard job will be putting it all together again for tomorrow's races," said Rutter after his stunning lap.

Worryingly, Rutter reckons there's more to come from the bike and its Michelin tyres. "We've got a good set-up and the Michelin race tyres are working exceptionally well, so I'm feeling good about our prospects. The best thing is that the HM Plant Honda Racing Fireblade is really coming on and every time I ride it, it gives me a little more back."

Rutter's Japanese team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari showed precisely why HRC selected him for such a prestigious ride by firing his CBR1000RR to fourth place on tomorrow's grid. The 21-year-old's skill and speed culminated in a mighty 1:27.274 lap that caught many seasoned British Superbike riders off guard. It also demonstrated the talent that is already making the former Honda MotoGP rider popular with British Superbike fans.

"I want to thank all the team for their hard work. I have worked very hard to learn the Silverstone circuit and like it very much. I hope to make a good start in the races from the front row. I'll ride hard and fast to do my best for HM Plant Honda Racing," said the Japanese rider who is fast finding fans in the UK.

Both riders remained consistently quick throughout the two qualifying sessions - often occupying the first two places on the timing screens. Sean Emmett and John Reynolds provided stiff competition, but Rutter timed his challenge to perfection and put himself out of reach with just 42 seconds remaining.



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