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Jul 12, 2011

British Superbike Championship Resumes This Coming Weekend At Oulton Park

Action from a British Superbike race earlier this season at Oulton Park.

Ryuichi Kiyonari returns to his favourite Oulton Park circuit intent
on an action replay of his winning ride there earlier in the year to
boost his chances of taking the MCE Insurance British Superbike crown
for a record fourth time.

But he can expect to have tough questions posed by his HM Plant Honda
team-mate Shane Byrne who is eager to end a four race run without a
win to strengthen his position at the top of the standings as he bids
to take the country's premier title for a third time.

The focus for them both is to consolidate their positions in the top
four as they look to the future and the end of season "Showdown for
the title" sequence of seven races for which only the leading six
riders in the points after the ninth round at Cadwell Park qualify.

Kiyonari returns to the Cheshire circuit, where so far he has enjoyed
no less than ten race victories, from a hectic trip back home to
Japan where he has worked hard on testing ahead of the Suzuka Eight
Hours race. He hopes that the additional time on the bike will have
helped him for his determined assault on the British crown.

He has come through a difficult period, which left him on the back
foot as he scored only seven points from four races, with renewed
confidence in his Fireblade with the turning point coming in the
second race at Knockhill where he took a fourth place, following that
with a fifth, and then a victory, last time out a little
fortuitously, at Snetterton.

Byrne, the winner of three races so far, looked likely to add to that
tally in the second race at Snetterton, but an aggressive last lap
move by Suzuki riding title rival John Hopkins saw the bikes bash
fairings with both riders losing ground. Byrne had to settle for
fourth as Kiyonari took full advantage to win for the second time in
the current campaign.

Hopkins will again be a major threat. He took his maiden victory in
BSB at this circuit back in May, enjoying his first visit to the top
step of the podium in some 11 years and repeated that form with a
second victory at Snetterton to stay in close contention, 19 points
down, on Byrne.

Tommy Hill will also be keen to make his mark at what is proving to
be his jinx circuit. Last year a crash there cost him any chance of
taking the British title, and earlier this year after setting pole
time at record pace he crashed heavily during morning warm-up,
seriously injuring his left shoulder and missing those races. Riding
Yamaha, Hill is third in the standings, 20 points up on Kiyonari, and
goes into these races keen to show what might have been but for those

Behind the top four there is a pack of nine riders separated by 59
points squabbling for a place between the end of season
"title-fighters" among them Tyco Honda's Peter Hickman who needs to
re-kindle the form he showed at Thruxton, where he took a career best
second place, if he is to progress. And returning to the
championship aboard the Honda will be former BSB and
current World Supersport rider James Ellison who takes over from Dan Linfoot.

And in the "back to basics" BSB-EVO class WFR Honda rider Glen
Richards is keen to return to winning ways to maintain his lead in
the standings although his team-mates Graeme Gowland and American
Jake Zemke, winners last time out, will be giving him a tough time.

Quotes from Honda riders ahead of Oulton Park:

Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda): "Oulton Park is a track I have mixed
feelings about because I really like the track, but earlier in the
season we did struggle a bit there and at the time I was so happy to
have taken a third and fourth place. Let's not forget though that we
have made big steps forward since then so I am feeling pretty excited
about the races this weekend. After Snetterton I am really pumped to
go back out there and get back to winning."

Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) said: "I need to be more aggressive
this weekend from the start. At Oulton Park you need a lot of
confidence to push hard so we again will work hard from free practice
to get it right. I feel happy with the bike and we have made
improvement since the last round at Oulton Park when we won. A lot of
people probably think I am one of the favourites for this weekend
because I have had good results there before; I want to win again for
our championship, but I think there will be a big fight as everyone
wants to win."

More, from a press release issued by Swan Yamaha:


The Swan Yamaha team return to Oulton Park this weekend as Tommy Hill and Michael Laverty bid to maintain their position in the top six in the overall MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings and score further podium credits for their title challenge.

The Championship returns to the Cheshire circuit for the second time this season and both riders are seeking a change in fortune compared to the previous visit back in May. At the round earlier in the year Hill had set the pace securing pole position but had his weekend ended prematurely with a crash in warm up which left him carrying a shoulder injury. Laverty was in contention for the win but suffered arm pump, which he has since had an operation to resolve and scored two fifth places. The Swan Yamaha pairing are now expecting a strong performance this weekend as they target a return to the podium.

Hill said: "After the nightmare of the second race at Snetterton I can't wait to get back out on track. We have to start where we left off this weekend and I am feeling confident as last time we were at Oulton Park we had a good set-up and everything was going good for us. We took the pole position inside the lap record but then I had the crash in warm-up and that put me two races behind everyone else so that makes it important to get back on the top step of the podium. Everyone is stepping up their game and so will we this weekend. It is so important now to get results and those all important podium credits."

Laverty said: "I am looking forward to Oulton Park and trying to get the Swan Yamaha back on the podium where it belongs after a tough weekend at Snetterton. We know we have the pace there and I was having a good race and was in a position to challenge for the win until I got arm pump so it is looking positive. Everyone has moved forward since we were there before but I think as a team we have too. We need to pull some results out of the bag this weekend and get back on the podium to score some of those important credits for the championship."
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