It has allowed the Japanese rider to slash team-mate Michael Rutter’s lead to just 26 points with four rounds remaining. The day started well for the team at the 2.213-mile Northamptonshire International Circuit. Race one saw Kiyonari grab the holeshot from pole position and Rutter slotted into second position behind him.
An exciting lap saw the 32-year-old Midlander pass his HM Plant Honda Racing team-mate for the race lead and shortly after the Japanese rider was relegated to third position by Leon Haslam. The duo maintained station aboard the factory CBR1000RR Fireblades until the race was red flagged on lap five.
A restarted 19-lap race again looked promising when Rutter this time secured the holeshot from pole position and Kiyo moved into fourth place. Drama hit once again when a mistake by the 22-year-old at New Woodcote saw him lay his motorcycle down and rejoin the race at the back of the field.
Undeterred, the determined rider powered his HM Plant Honda through the pack, focussing on getting back into a points-scoring finish. By the midway point he had moved into 13th position, setting a new lap record of 1:26.870 on lap four. He further improved his position to take eighth by the time he passed the chequered flag.
Meanwhile, Rutter continued to fend off challenges from the two Ducatis of Gregorio Lavilla and Leon Haslam at the front of the field. The Leicestershire rider maintained his advantage until lap eight when Lavilla passed him, but Rutter remained close to his rival and continued to challenge for the front-running position.
However, misfortune struck at New Woodcote when Rutter lost the front of the HM Plant Honda on the penultimate lap. He rejoined the pack in 13th but damage to the machine slowed him, forcing the championship leader to eventually finish in 15th place.
With both riders coming under pressure in the title chase it was vital for the pair to achieve strong results in race two. Once again, Kiyo took the holeshot from pole position and Rutter slotted in behind him. The two HM Plant Hondas immediately set about pulling out a sizeable gap over their rivals at the front of the field.
This was negated by the appearance of the safety car at the end of lap one and another red flag fell one lap later. With the opportunity to restart the race in their original positions, both riders remained focussed. Kiyo again took an early lead on the opening lap, while Michael settled for fourth position behind Lavilla and Haslam.
A close battle ensued at the front of the field between Kiyo and Lavilla, with the Japanese rider holding off the Spaniard’s challenges, despite his lap record-setting pace. A last lap push saw the HM Plant Honda Racing rider pull out a greater advantage over his rival to secure victory number ten of the season.
Rutter remained in fourth place across the line. Despite closing in on Haslam, a lack of confidence in the front tyre after his first race crash left the experienced rider feeling unable to push too hard for a much needed podium finish.
Michael Rutter: “Today has obviously not been a very good day for me in terms of the races or the championship. My main aim was to at least maintain my advantage in the series if not extend it, but instead Kiyo and Lavilla have both closed the gap on me. It’s really important now that I finish in the top three positions for the remaining races and try to keep those two behind me.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari: “My target for the rest of the series is to finish every race and I was lucky today. Usually when I crash I cannot get back on the bike but in race one I was able to continue and pull back some points. I felt under a lot of pressure and I have had to push hard to get good results, but it was worth it.”