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Bennetts BSB: Kiyonari set for racing return at Mondello Park

Bennetts BSB: Kiyonari set for racing return at Mondello Park

Bennetts BSB: Kiyonari set for racing return at Mondello Park

Ryuichi Kiyonari has been given the 'thumbs-up' to make a racing return in the double race fifth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Mondello Park on Sunday 15 May.

The 22-year-old Japanese rider has been given clearance by medics, having recovered from the bruising he took in a high speed crash during the third round last month and now Kiyonari is a man in a hurry, playing catch-up in the title stakes.

Riding the HM Plant Honda, he had won the opening four races to be the comfortable leader in the points standings, but his crash in the opening action at Mallory Park proved both painful and also costly in terms of his title dream.

Michael Rutter, his team-mate, fully exploited his absence by moving comfortably clear in the rankings as he enjoyed a hat-trick of victories with Honda powering the victors of the first seven races. That sequence was ended, in a dramatic style last time out by Leon Haslam, the Airwaves Ducati rider, who won a fairing bashing last lap encounter to win the dash to the flag.

The victory underlined the impact the Airwaves backed GSE team is enjoying on their return to the series, and as they power into the Irish round, they will be expecting further consolidation, with Gregorio Lavilla looking to tighten his hold on second place in the standings.

The Spanish rider will be riding the short, demanding circuit for the first time, but he has proved to be a fast learner, taking six top three finishes so far, to be running 56 points down on the confident Rutter who has bitter-sweet memories of the circuit.

Last year, he was leading the first race comfortably when twice his Fireblade bucked awkwardly out of line - he managed to hold it once, but the second time he was down. Some consolation came with victory in the second race. Now he is intent on a winning double to keep the threat of his hard, fast riding team-mate Kiyonari at bay.

The Honda duo expect to be setting the pace, but they can take nothing for granted about the Ducatis. Lavilla has still to taste the winner's champagne, Haslam enjoyed it and now is eager for more.

Scott Smart would also relish the prospect of that. He enjoyed his first ever Superbike victory in the corresponding round last year, riding then with Hawk Kawasaki, and now, having switched to the Rizla Suzuki team needs an action replay to kick-start what has so far been a modest start to the campaign.

He is again joined in the Suzuki equipe by James Haydon, who is deputising for the injured defending champion John Reynolds - the Andorran rider made a solid start to his role of 'super-sub' at Oulton Park, taking fourth place in the day's second race.

Keep an eye out also for Glen Richards - he made the podium at Mondello last year, and is looking stronger than ever aboard the Hawk Kawasaki, running third in the standings, while the threat posed by Karl Harris, the former triple British Supersport Champion is growing, as illustrated by his pair of third placings last time out.

Sean Emmett needs strong results aboard the Virgin Mobile Samsung Yamaha, and should have team-mate Tommy Hill, now recovered from injury, back in action alongside him and Richard Wren, while Jeremy McWilliams faces a race against time to recover from the shoulder injuries that sidelined him from the Holiday Monday races if he is to ride the Stobart Honda.

James Buckingham, riding the Quay Garage Suzuki is intent on a repeat of his winning double of last year to tighten his grip on the British Superbike Cup, but he can expect a tough challenge from both Steve Brogan and the local favourites Marty Nutt.

Around the two Bennetts British Superbike races there is also action counting to the Metabo British Supersport Championship, the British 125cc Championship and the Metzeler Racetec National Superstock Championship.

MotoGP, 2005

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