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Lavilla and Kiyonari victorious at Bennetts BSB

Lavilla and Kiyonari victorious at Bennetts BSB

Lavilla and Kiyonari victorious at Bennetts BSB

Gregorio Lavilla and Ryuichi Kiyonari shared the victories in the opening round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch.

Lavilla, who had set the fastest ever lap of the Indy circuit to claim the pole start, won the opening race comfortably, having shaken off the early leader, Airwaves Ducati team-mate Leon Haslam.

The race was stopped with two thirds undergone when Haslam crashed heavily out of second place at Paddock Hill, with Karl Harris taking over, just ahead of Michael Rutter as the red flags came out.

Haslam, in his own words, "took a bruising", but he was fit to return for the second 30 lap race, for which the conditions posed real problems for all racers. Light rain fell, leaving the track damp with the prospect of more rain to come.

It was a time for everyone to gamble. HM Plant Honda rider Ryuichi Kiyonari opted for full wet tyres while Lavilla gambled on slicks, with the rest of the starting grid choosing various combinations of tyres.

Kiyonari charged into the distance, making full use of his tyres as the conditions deteriorated, but Lavilla was demonstrating remarkable skills and control as he stayed on the pace, conceding second place to Australian Billy McConnell for a dozen laps in mid race before the Virgin Mobile Yamaha rider crashed out.

By now, Kiyonari had lapped the former champion Shane Byrne, as he romped to a 19 seconds victory, but, on the final lap, Haslam, shrugging aside the intense pain from his injured wrist and ankle, grabbed second place from Lavilla.

"I had to do that to redeem myself," Haslam explained. "I was trying to push too hard, the rear came round and it caught me out big time. Instead of settling for safe points, I wanted more, so I cursing myself."

It was a brave ride, but for sheer skill Lavilla's third place was amazing: "I had no grip at all - it was just a case of being smooth and not worrying about the others, so I am just happy to finish the race."

Kiyonari, fourth in the opener, trails Lavilla 41-38 in the title stakes, praised his tyres as the real success: "I was luck - the tyres were very good, even when the rain eased midway through the race. Very happy."

Craig Coxhell, riding Hawk Kawasaki, took fourth place, ahead of Harris, who is third in the overall standings with 31 points.

Chris Martin, riding the PR Branson Honda, won the British Superbike Cup class in the first race, ahead of Marty Nutt, Gareth Glynn and Malcolm Ashley, while next time out, Nutt took the victory ahead of Zak Barry and Ashley.

Results - Round One - Bennetts British Superbike Championship

Race One - 20 laps

1 G Lavilla Airwaves Ducati 15m 28.510s Av Sp 95.15mph
2 K Harris HM Plant Honda +4.222s
3 M Rutter Stobart Motorsport +8.758s
4 R Kiyonari HM Plant Honda +8.891
5 J Rea Red Bull Honda +12.363
6 S Byrne Rizla Suzuki +18.556
Race Two - 30 laps

1 R Kiyonari HM Plant Honda 29m 39.805s Av Sp 86.04mph
2 L Haslam Airwaves Ducati +19.069s
3 G Lavilla Airwaves Ducati +19.240s
4 C Coxhell Hawk Kawasaki +21.922s
5 K Harris HM Plant Honda +23.918s
6 T Hill Virgin Mobile Yamaha + 25.842s
Points standings

1 G Lavilla 41
2 R Kiyonari 38
3 K Harris 31
4 L Haslam 20
5 M Rutter 16
6 D Thomas 16

MotoGP, 2006

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