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Kiyonari returns to spearhead Honda title charge
|Tuesday, 02 April 2013 17:34|
Ryuichi Kiyonari is back in MCE Insurance British Superbike action and determined to start the campaign with a double victory on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit to spearhead his, and Honda’s, charge towards a record fourth crown.
The Japanese rider, fresh from his title success in the Asia Championship, lines up with the sport’s rising star Alex Lowes in the factory backed Samsung Honda equipe.
Kiyonari is keen to set the record straight with his British fans. He has promised them that it will be the “Kiyo of 2010” back on track and not the one that conceded the title in 2011 with lack-lustre performances.
Kiyonari has tested strongly, despite the inclement weather, and is settled with the team with whom he has won a record 43 races and three times been crowned champion.
Lowes, meanwhile, while respecting Kiyonari’s speed and skills, is not prepared to be the supporting act. The Lincolnshire lad showed his huge potential last season when a late consistent run put him into the Showdown and with it a chance to snatch the crown although that went sad on him at the final hurdle.
The double race winner of the penultimate Silverstone round had a pointless Brands Hatch finale and like his Japanese team-mate, Lowes also is keen to show what might have been.
They face tough challenges, not only on the short, fast Kent circuit, but across the full campaign of 26 races and they have to beat the top man of last term Shane Byrne, who continues with Kawasaki as he too bids to take the British title for a fourth time.
And, packing a punch for Suzuki will be the popular, hard riding Australian Josh Brookes who is intent on going one better than his runner-up position of last season, while Yamaha have James Ellison returning from MotoGP to race alongside Australian Superbike Champion Josh Waters.
They look formidable as do other Honda riders, among them the Bathams backed duo of Michael Rutter and Tommy Bridewell Rutter is recovered from a leg injury sustained while testing for the Honda TT Legends for whom he will ride in the World Endurance Championship while Bridewell, who packed the points while riding BMW last season, is keen to be in the top six overall again and in the end of season Showdown for the title.
Former World Supersport rider Robbin Harms rides for the Doodson backed Honda team, run under the eagle eye of former BSB competitor Tom Tunstall while the first lady of BSB Jenny Tinmouth continues aboard her Two Wheels Racing Honda along with the Lloyds British GB Moto pair of Dan Linfoot and Peter Hickman.
And, Padgett’s Honda, a race winning team last year, are desperately trying to pull together a sponsorship package to enable them to run World Superbike star Jakub Smrz in the opening round.
HONDA RIDER QUOTES
Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda):
“I want the title for a fourth time, not for the record to show that I can still do it. I want to be better than my last title winning season, always looking for improvements but the competition looks very strong.
“But every year it is like that, it is never easy in the British series. The bike is different to the one I raced here in 2011, and I am very happy riding it – now I want more race wins and to be champion again. My team-mate Alex is good, very fast, very strong, but I have to beat him. Brands Hatch is an OK circuit for me, but many laps, though everywhere is challenging – I try very hard for wins there.”
Sam Lowes (Samsung Honda):
“I’m looking forward to getting out there at Brands Hatch to see where we are compared to everyone else – it has been a long winter and I just want to get out there and get started. I have no thoughts about the misfortunes of the final round there last year – I was well on the pace then so if I can rock up and be the same, be positive and keep on the pace, then it will be a good season. The bike is better and I like it as it feels really strong so that I can be consistent and challenge for the title,”I’m enjoying working with the team; Kiyo is a nice guy and I can learn a lot from him and the team and that should help me to improve on last year and see me win more races.”
Tommy Bridewell (Bathams Honda):
“I started with a blank canvas but I feel that I can be competitive and have realistic goals for the season and am getting used to the change of bike from last season. The Honda I am riding now is rather different to ride compared to the BMW, though both have their strengths. The engine of the BMW was, I think, stronger, but the chassis of the Honda is possibly stronger. For my riding style the BMW was the best bike that I could have had but now we are working to make the Honda like that and to be really strong for me"
Article source: Honda Pro Images