Ryuichi Kiyonari recently clinched his third British Superbike Champion in the season finale at Oulton Park. Kiyonari’s triumphant return from World Superbike to the British series with HM Plant Honda has made him equal in the record books with Niall McKenzie who also won three BSB championship crowns.
This season the 28-year-old ‘King Kiyo’ compiled an impressive 16 podium finishes, including seven wins en route to sealing the title.
“I had a plan at the start of the season,” said Kiyo. “I had won the title before but my motivation was strong to win again for HM Plant Honda. It was good to be back in BSB again and I wanted more than anything to be champion. We had a good start to the season and testing went well in Spain; we were fast and I was feeling happy as we had lots of development work for this season with a new engine system, electronics and suspension.
“I was pushing hard as I knew that the others needed the win, but it feels a relief now as the win was enough to be champion again. It has been a big fight all season and all the other riders haven’t made it easy for me all year. It has been tough and there have been good and bad moments but now I can relax.
“The championship means as much to me as the others and I have to thank everyone for their support and the team for their hard work.”
Kiyo, who also won BSB in 2006 and ’07, now shares the record of three BSB titles with Mackenzie, who won three straight in 1996, ’97 and ’98.
There’s long been a debate among Superbike racing fans as to which domestic series is stronger, the British or American (AMA) Superbike Championship. A strong argument could be made for both. The World Superbike grid is filled with successful ex-BSB riders. Americans point to the dominance of Ben Spies in World Superbike last year as proof that the AMA series reigns supreme.
While Honda has struggled in AMA Superbike, Kiyonari’s victory was the third BSB title for Honda in the last five years.
These beautiful photos were provided by Gavan Caldwell. Caldwell has been taking photographs for various specialist road racing magazines for many years. Gavan recently turned professional due to the demand for his work and is producing some stunning images.