Sep 7, 2010
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KIYONARI AND BROOKES SET FOR TITLE SHOOT-OUT
Round 10 Croft, North Yorkshire 10/11/12 September
MCE INSURANCE BRTISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP
Ryuichi Kyonari and Josh Brookes are not only HM Plant Honda team-mates but also intense rivals in the fast developing "Shoot-out" for the MCE Insurance British Superbike crown which enters the "title-fighters" phase over the final seven races of the season, beginning with this double race tenth round at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire.
Kiyonari, bidding to take the crown for a third time, is level on points with Suzuki rider Tommy Hill, while Brookes is just a single point down on them both, but concentrating the minds of the leading trio is having Michael Rutter, Michael Laverty and Alastair Seeley all within a handful of points of them, leaving no room for error.
The championship deciding points mechanism for this season has been radically adjusted to prevent the runaway charges to the crown of the previous two season when first Shane Byrne and then Leon Camier powered to the country's premier title with races to spare.
Now, the top six riders after the Cadwell Park round have been put into this special category, effectively having the points scores up to and including the ninth round deleted, and instead each being give 500 points as a base, to which are added bonus, or "podium credit" points reflecting their performances.
In this way, Kiyonari and Hill are on 525 points, Brookes 524, with Rutter, who in previous seasons has twice been the series runner-up and twice finished third overall, on 510, Laverty 509 and Seeley 505. Points will be scored on the conventional scale in the final races, with the series organisers aiming for the title fight to go all of the way to the final round at Oulton Park in October.
Kiyonari has a strong pedigree at the circuit and he will be looking to build on that the Japanese rider has taken four victories there, including a winning double in the second of his title winning years, 2007, and last season he made a one-off return to the British Championship to ride for the HM Plant Honda team, taking a fourth place in the opener.
Brookes, who raced the circuit for the first time last season took a pair of thirds and believes that better things lie ahead for him third time around, though he has concerns about the bumpy nature of the circuit, and the need to dial in bike set-up quickly to maximise his effort.
Meanwhile the Swan Honda duo, racing on their team's local circuit, are out of the hunt for the title, instead focussing on pride, and the consolation of bidding for the rider's cup. Flying Scot Stuart Easton is hoping for an upturn in fortunes at a circuit where last year he scored his maiden victory in the series.
James Ellison, nearing a return to fitness after a lengthy recuperation from the broken leg sustained in practice for the second round, is planning to build on his pair of strong sixth places recorded in the previous round at Cadwell Park by taking a first podium finish since the opening round of the series at Brands Hatch back in April.
Honda BSB rider thoughts ahead of round 10:
Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda): "At the moment I am not thinking so much of the championship and my focus is on winning races, as I want to be first and I have been on the podium at the last few rounds but not won for a few races now. I think after Croft I will look more towards the championship but there are seven races in the Showdown and we need to be trying to win all of them as otherwise I will not be happy. I feel that with each round we have been improving and getting faster; the HM Plant Honda is working much better and the whole team are working hard together to put us up there. I think now it is down to my riding and I will be doing all I can to win and beat the other riders. Croft is a difficult track with the bumps, but this is the same for all of us and I need to be back at the front this weekend."
Josh Brookes (HM Plant Honda): "Croft is going to be important for all of us in the top six as every point can make a difference, but my approach always remains the same; I want to go out and win every race. Looking at this circuit the main challenge is going to be getting the bike set up for the bumps, but then that is the same for everyone, so we may have to soften things up and find a compromise to deal with that. We were on the podium twice last year and I won't settle for anything less again next weekend."
James Ellison (Swan Honda): "I have been continuing to train hard and the aim, as I have said so many times already this season, is to win. I have been playing catch up since coming back from injury but that only makes me more determined and I know that my bike is capable of winning and that is where we should be. Croft is one of those circuits where you need to get the set up right and get dialled in quickly, but the team had good results there last season, so there shouldn't be any reason why we can't be pushing for some better results. I fought hard for the sixth places at Cadwell Park but I am expecting more from this weekend."
Stuart Easton (Swan Honda): "Croft is one of the rounds I have been most looking forward to this season as it was there last year that I won my first ever BSB race and we need to try and repeat that this weekend. The track is like a second home round to me and I always have a lot of support there, so I want to be back where we should be, not only for me and the team but also our supporters. I definitely think that we should be on for some better results at Croft. I struggled with set up at Cadwell Park but I don't think we will have the same problem at Croft as we did at the last round so I am hoping for a better weekend."