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Ryuichi Kiyonari profile

By Dan Moakes
October 3 2006

Ryuichi ‘Kiyo’ Kiyonari
nationality · Japanese
born · 23 September 1982
grand prix début · 2003
british superbike début · 2004

Ryuichi Kiyonari is only the second Japanese rider to race full time in Britain, where he has been a pace setter as part of Honda’s official Superbike operation, if not the fastest man in the series. A title contender in his second season, the odd crash proved costly in 2005, but he has come back from that disappointment to secure the championship in 2006. From the end of 2004 he has taken 25 wins from 52 races - three of which he didn’t start - and is therefore by far the most successful BSB rider of the period

Ryuichi Kiyonari 2006 - photo by Raceline Photography
© Raceline Photography 2006

1988
Earliest motorcycle racing experience

1996
Road racing début, in the 80cc GP class at Suzuka

1998 Team SRS-J, number 90 Honda
26th in All-Japan 125cc championship, with Honda RS125R - 7th at Mine

1999 Team SRS-J, number 26 Honda
23rd in All-Japan 125cc championship, with Honda RS125R - 12th at Mine and Sugo

2000 Team Kohtake RSC, number 111 Honda
20th in All-Japan 250cc championship, with Honda RS250R - 9th at Suzuka; also 9th in the Suzuka 8-Hours race, on a Honda CBR900RR with Kei Nashimoto, for Team Kohtake & Sakurai Honda - 2nd in the X-Formula class

2001 Team Kohtake RSC, number 100 Honda
16th in All-Japan 250cc championship, with Honda RS250R - 7th at TI Aida; also raced in the Suzuka 8-Hours, on a TSR-Honda AC91M with Shin’ichi Nakatomi, for Team Sakurai Honda

2002 Team Kohtake RSC, number 59 Honda
All-Japan Supersport Champion, with Honda CBR600F4i - four race wins; also 12th in All-Japan Superbike championship, with number 59 Honda CBR954RR - won at TI Aida - and 10th overall in the JSB1000 class

2003 Telefónica MoviStar Honda, number 23 Honda
Ryuichi began the year in Japanese competition again (see below), but quickly graduated to MotoGP with the Gresini Honda team, after the death in April of HRC rider Daijiro Kato. The 20-year-old took over the customer-spec RC211V that had been run for Sete Gibernau, with the Spaniard moving onto the team’s full works machine. Eight scoring races gave Kiyonari 22 points, and 19th overall, with his best results being 11th in Barcelona and at Motegi
Started in Japanese Superbikes, with the number 12 Honda CBR954RR for Team Kohtake RSC - 7th at Suzuka, which gave him 15th overall; and also finished second as a Sugo wildcard, at the Japanese round of World Supersport, with a Honda CBR600RR for BKM; also raced in the Suzuka 8-Hours, on a Honda VTR1000SPW with Nicky Hayden, for Seven Stars Honda

Ryuichi Kiyonari 2004 - photo by Raceline Photography
© Raceline Photography 2004

2004 HM Plant Honda Racing, number 23 Honda
For 2004, HRC had a role for ‘Kiyo’ on the British Superbike trail, which saw Honda’s main works effort with the new CBR1000RR FireBlade, due to the tyre restrictions in the World Championship. He made a strong start, with second twice at Silverstone, but after a mid-season lull it wasn’t until Mallory Park that he again threatened the pace setters. But he then gained in strength and finished his season with a dominant double win at Donington Park, where he’d previously raced in the GP. There were twelve top six results all told, and 234 points meant sixth overall
Also raced in the Suzuka 8-Hours, on a Honda CBR1000RRW with Gaku Kamada, for Seven Stars Honda 11

Ryuichi Kiyonari 2005 - photo by Raceline Photography
© Raceline Photography 2005

2005 HM Plant Honda, number 6 Honda
Year two saw Kiyo with experience of all the British tracks, plus a wealth of pre-season testing with the latest Michelin tyres and the latest FireBlade. He began as the man to beat, with four straight victories, but then crashed at Mallory Park and had to miss races. He bounced back with another five wins in seven starts, but a couple of later mistakes allowed the consistent Gregorio Lavilla to get in front before the final round. Ryuichi wound up second, on 429 points, but he won most often, with twelve, and had three poles and six fastest laps
Also raced the number 54 RC211V for Camel Honda in the last MotoGP round, finishing 12th; and also won the Suzuka 8-Hours race, on a Honda CBR1000RRW with Tohru Ukawa, for Seven Stars Honda 7

Ryuichi Kiyonari 2006 - photo by Raceline Photography
© Raceline Photography 2006

2006 HM Plant Honda, number 2 Honda
HRC would surely not accept second best in 2006, and Kiyo again had to battle with the Ducati of Lavilla. This time the Spaniard made the best start, but Ryuichi would add seven wins from nine starts mid-season, and three of the last four to defeat Leon Haslam at the Brands finale - after Lavilla hit trouble. Another eleven wins, and five other podiums, meant 466 points and the BSB title
Also took 5th and fastest lap in the Suzuka 8-Hours race, on a Honda CBR1000RR with Makoto Tamada, for Seven Stars Honda 7



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