That's Hanging It Out Over the Edge – Ryuichi Kiyonari
Ryuichi Kiyonari won’t be riding for Honda this year, at least according to team manager Havier Beltran, and that’s a shame.
Kiyonari brought home 43 race wins and three British Superbike titles for Honda over the years and was the most successful BSB rider in history starting with his debut for HM Plant Honda bask in 2004. He took his first title in 2006 and then repeated in 2007. A couple of years racing World Superbikes followed with Ten Kate Racing, and Kiyonari managed to win three races in 2008 at Brands Hatch and Donington Park.
Going on to win the title after busting through in a three-way dogfight between himself, Josh Brookes and Tommy Hill, Kiyonari started amongst the favorites to make it four titles in a row in 2011, but it was not to be and he lacked consistency during 2011. After closing out the the season in sixth well behind the leaders, Kiyonari is now mulling over his options for the 2012 season.
“It has been a difficult season for Kiyo; with him the HM Plant Honda team has won three BSB titles and scored 43 race wins which makes him the most successful rider in BSB history,” Beltran said. “We want to thank Kiyo for the successes we have celebrated together over the years. He will always be part of the Honda family and we wish him all the best for the future, in whatever he decides to do.”
When it comes to racing motorcycles at the highest level, the edge is mighty thin indeed and it will always come down to ‘what have you done for us lately.’
This ride, on a wet track at Donington, is proof positive that the man is willing to push the outside of the envelope – come rain or come shine.
The Ryuichi Kiyonari Timeline
Earliest motorcycle racing experience
Road racing début, in the 80cc GP class at Suzuka
Team SRS-J, number 90 Honda
26th in All-Japan 125cc championship, with Honda RS125R – 7th at Mine
Team SRS-J, number 26 Honda
23rd in All-Japan 125cc championship, with Honda RS125R – 12th at Mine and Sugo
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
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
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
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