Ryuichi Kiyonari confirmed at Valencia that he would be leaving MotoGP after Sunday's 2003 season finale, ending a year that saw the 20-year-old propelled from Supersport racing in Japan and into the GP limelight, as the late Daijiro Kato's replacement in the Telefonica Honda team.

In the 13 races since his Le Mans debut, the Japanese finished in the points on eight occasions, taking a best finish of 11th at Catalunya and his home round at Motegi. But with Honda eager to sign race - and championship - contenders for 2004, not least to compensate for the loss of Valentino Rossi, the option on Kiyonari's contract wasn't taken up by HRC for next season.

Nevertheless, after finishing 14th in his final race, the Japanese Supersport champion declared that he'd achieved his dream of riding an RCV, and hopes to take the skills learnt this year onto pastures new next season.

"Here my MotoGP experience finishes; I will remember this season as the time I fulfilled my dream," he said. "With regards to the future I want to use the knowledge I gained from racing the Honda RC211V to help me in other Championships. I am really happy for the results of my team. Thanks to Fausto and all the mechanics who have helped me this year."

"I want to mention Kiyonari, who here in Valencia had one of his best races, and I'm sure will be a brilliant prospect (for the future)," added team manager Fausto Gresini.

Colin Edwards will join Sete Gibernau in the Telefonica team next season.

 

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