Ryuichi Kiyonari outgunned his rival Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne in the battle for pole position as the ‘War for Four’ MCE Insurance British Superbike titles continues to rage at the penultimate round of the season at Silverstone.
The Japanese rider bounced back from a crash in the morning practice session to conquer a drying Northamptonshire circuit in style with a flying lap of 2m 10.141s aboard his Buildbase BMW, opting for slick Pirelli tyres in the changing conditions.
“I am very happy to be on pole, but for me it has been a very difficult day with the crash in the morning. It was a small high-side but that was disappointing and then in qualifying I knew I had to just push and build confidence,” said Kiyonari who had outpaced Byrne by 0.799s.
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Byrne, who takes a 12 points lead over Kiyonari into the races, decided to run with an intermediate front Pirelli tyre in the final element of the qualifying sessions. The standings leader was able to put in a last lap charge to secure his front row start, closing in on his Japanese rival.
“Both myself and Kiyo were in a difficult situation as we both wanted front row starts, but really could not take any chances. I decided to run with an intermediate front tyre and that was a gamble on the side of caution, but I put in a semi-decent last lap and am ready for good races,” said Byrne.
Gary Mason completed the front row of the grid on the Tsingtao WK Kawasaki, a first for the team in MCE BSB ahead of the chasing pack. Jon Kirkham and the Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki team held fourth after he edged out title contender Josh Brookes on the Milwaukee Yamaha.
Title Fighter Chris Walker set the seventh best time, just ahead of his Lloyds British GBmoto Kawasaki team-mate James Ellison with Dan Linfoot on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki ninth, ahead of fellow Title Fighter Tommy Bridewell who crashed his Milwaukee Yamaha before setting a flying lap in qualifying three.
Datatag Extreme Qualifying:
1: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Buildbase BMW) 2m:10.141s
2: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.799s
3: Gary Mason (Tsingtao Kawasaki) +1.390s
4: Jon Kirkham (Halsall Biker Gear Kawasaki) +2.465s
5: Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) +2.755s
6: James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +3.056s