The Japanese rider came tantalisingly close to making it a double, but was denied the victory by just 0.176s in race two by Shane “Shakey” Byrne after an epic duel between the triple title-winners.
It was Kiyonari’s first victory in three years and the result was even more impressive after he bounced back from a crash during the morning warm-up session. Kiyonari made the perfect get-away on his Buildbase BMW to lead throughout the opening race with Byrne pushing to overcome a sluggish start and unable to close the gap in the final stages.
Kiyonari reflected: “I was very nervous before the start as I was very disappointed to have the crash which was my big mistake. When the race started though it went and I thought ‘I can’t let Shakey’ get me’. I got the gap and tried hard to hold off Shakey which is never easy, but I enjoyed the race and the win. It feels so good to win again.”
Byrne blamed himself for his slow start and despite giving chase to his rival was forced to settle for second ahead of his team-mate Stuart Easton who scored his first podium finish of the season at his home round.
Byrne was determined to set the record straight in race two, but he was unable to shake off the resurgent Kiyonari who closed him down and then snatched the lead with a decisive move at the Hairpin. The Buildbase BMW rider had the edge until a dramatic moment when he was flicked up out of the seat and it handed Byrne the opportunity to pass. Kiyonari hadn’t given up though and chased him down hard, closing from 0.8s to just 0.176s at the finish line and within striking distance of his rival.
Byrne said: “It’s fair to say that Kiyo has been the man to beat all weekend, his pace has been phenomenal. He came past me and then when he made a mistake I knew that was my chance. I got it back, but he still tried to get me, like a little robot with a chip in him not wanting to give up.”
Kiyonari added: “I am disappointed to not have won again. I am happy to show that I can still win and finish on the podium and I have to thank the team. I was strong in race two and Shakey was very fast but it was difficult and I made mistakes. Next time I will try for no mistakes and for more podiums or wins at Brands Hatch, my favourite circuit.”
Walker, despite the pain of a broken finger sustained in a crash during Friday free practice returned to the podium in third place ahead of a dissapointed Brookes and Easton.
1: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Buildbase BMW)
2: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 4.861s
3: Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +5.908s
4: Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) +6.143s
5: Chris Walker (Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Kawasaki) +7.819s
6: Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha) +7.885s
1: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki)
2: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Buildbase BMW) +0.176s
3: Chris Walker (Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Kawasaki) +6.349s
4: Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) +7.975s
5: Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +10.595s
6: Dan Linfoot (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) +14.755s
1: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 190
2: Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) 111
3: James Ellison (Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Kawasaki) 108
4: Tommy Bridewell (Milwaukee Yamaha) 88
5: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Buildbase BMW) 82
6: Chris Walker (Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Kawasaki) 76