Ryuichi Kiyonari has closed the gap at the top of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship after a brace of top five finishes at Cadwell Park, but the man the Japanese ace is chasing is no longer HM Plant Honda team-mate Michael Rutter after a disappointing weekend for the Midlander.

With Rutter crashing out of the second race of the weekend, the top three in the standings - Airwaves Ducati rider Gregorio Lavilla and the two HM Plant men - are separated by just nine points with three race meetings left to run.

Race one saw a crash at the first corner result in the safety car being deployed at the start of the race, with Rutter and Kiyonari running in sixth and ninth place respectively.

Once the safety car pulled off, Rutter found himself unable to challenge the riders in front, and over the course of the race he dropped down to eighth place, but team-mate Kiyo was a man on a mission as he battled up from his eleventh place grid slot, eventually taking the flag in fifth place - smashing Yukio Kagayama's lap record in the process.

Kiyo's second race performance was even more impressive as he was forced to charge through the field from a lowly twelfth at the end of the first lap. He improved by one place on each of the next three laps, before overtaking James Haydon on lap eight, and then bettered this feat by taking a further four positions - again on consecutive laps.

Up to fourth, Kiyonari then had his focus firmly fixed on race one winner Tommy Hill in the final podium place, finding a way past the Virgin Yamaha three laps from home to secure his 13th podium finish of the season.

"We made a bit of a breakthrough after this morning's warm-up and that gave me extra confidence for the races," he said. "My third row starting position meant that it was impossible for me to catch the leaders, but I was determined to fight hard in front of HM Plant Honda Racing's home fans.

"The CBR1000RR Fireblade was very fast in a straight line. The drive out of the corners enabled me to make good progress past many riders. It has been a difficult weekend for the team, but thankfully I managed to get on the podium. Now I must continue to work hard and hopefully close the gap further on Lavilla and Michael."

Rutter was also fast off the mark in the second race - third into the first corner and second after a confident first lap, but a hard-charging Lavilla made an aggressive move on the HM Plant Honda rider at the chicane, forcing him off line and leaving him vulnerable to a subsequent overtaking manoeuvre by Tommy Hill.

Under pressure from the chasing pack, Rutter parted company with his Fireblade at Chris Curve while running in fourth position on lap twelve and he now lies second in the championship chase, two points down on Lavilla and seven ahead of Kiyonari with six races left to run.

"It hasn't been a good day for me for the second consecutive event," Rutter said. "If anything, Cadwell has been more disappointing because I was hoping for two solid points-scoring rides to maintain my lead in the championship.

"My plan was to concentrate on each race rather than worrying about the title, but it obviously didn't work out for me. While it doesn't look good if you take today's results in isolation, I'm only two points behind Lavilla and so it's all down to the last three rounds of the championship."