Monday, August 13, 2007

BSB: Kiyo Doubles Up at Croft

HM Plant Honda rider Ryuichi Kiyonari won the double at the Croft round of the British Superbike Championship, leading his team-mate Johnny Rea home in both races. Stobart VK Vent-Axia Honda rider Tom Sykes had never been on a BSB podium before, but snatched 3rd in both races to continue his impressive debut year. Rizla Suzuki's Cal Crutchlow had been on pole position, a season's best for the rookie.

In Race One, Johnny Rea made a great start to lead round turn one, with good starts from Crutchlow, Kiyonari and Sykes. Kiyo was the man to watch as he scythed past Crutchlow and tucked in behind his young team-mate. With Croft being a tricky place to overtake, Rea was at the head of an unruly snake of 6 bikes with the Airwaves Ducatis at its tail. After following Rea for a few laps, Kiyonari moved into the lead, just fast enough to keep his team-mate behind him.
Cal Crutchlow was right on the pace as he battled to hold 3rd, showing how quick he can be after struggling on the brand new Suzuki K7 earlier in the year. Greg Lavilla was pressuring the youngster heavily, despite still suffering from the rib injuries he suffered when he was run over at Oulton. However, it was Sykes who was on the move. Crutchlow had a bit of a moment in the hairpin, which baulked Lavilla and ruined his exit from the corner and his drive onto the straight. Tom Sykes got a good exit and breezed past the Spaniard in a straight line, making the Ducati look much slower than it really is.
Sykes had his eyes on the podium, and managed to outbrake his fellow rookie on the Rizla Suzuki for 3rd, which he held to the finish.
Kiyonari and Rea both finished the race for once, with the Japanese rider extending his championship lead by another 5 points over his team-mate. As he crossed the line, Sykes punched the air in delight at his first BSB podium. He might not have hit the headlines as much as Leon Camier did at the start of the year, but Sykes has rarely been out of the top 6, and his arrival on the podium was inevitable. Crutchlow was disappointed to miss out on a podium but was delighted with 4th place, his best finish in BSB so far. Leon Haslam managed to beat his team-mate Greg Lavilla for 5th.

Race Two saw Johnny Rea make another great start, while Kiyonari was several places down this time around. The action started after 2 corners when Tommy Hill's Virgin Media Yamaha decided to hurl him into orbit. I'll let you know when he comes back down.
Tom Sykes was on a charge again, overtaking the fast-starting Cal Crutchlow to take 2nd place and close in on Rea, with Haslam following the rookies in 4th. Kiyonari's Honda took Haslam's Ducati at the hairpin by staying incredibly tight, almost running over the kerbs, and lifting up the Englishman. Kiyo waved an apology for the firm-but-fair manoeuvre as they headed down the straight. The man from Japan was on outstanding form. Sykes nearly lost the front on the way into the hairpin, running well wide, but Crutchlow couldn't take advantage as he was also on a very wide line. However, Kiyonari had thrown his bike down the inside of Crutchlow and took advantage of Sykes's magical mystery tour of the carpark to go straight from 4th to 2nd in one corner.
Now the two Airwaves Ducatis were running in 5th and 6th. Lavilla was racing very aggressively, and Leon Haslam was on the wrong end of another pass when the Spaniard absolutely slammed the Englishman out of the way at the hairpin. This time Haslam received no apology, although it would have been more richly deserved this time round as Lavilla's move was much more brutal than Kiyonari's.
Kiyo sneaked past his team-mate to grab the lead, and put his head down for some quick laps to make himself some breathing space.
The hairpin was the site of even more action when Chris Walker tangled with Karl Harris, taking them both down. Stalker, perhaps wisely, jumped back on his bike and rode off, just in case Harris was feeling punchy. Unfortunately, Karl had fallen awkwardly and had to be helped away by marshals. Crutchlow ran off the track on the corner before the hairpin, but with the help of marshals managed to pick the bike up and bump start it to grab a couple of points.
Johnny Rea was in 2nd, but Tom Sykes was on a mission, doing a pretty decent impression of that legendary Garry McCoy 500GP moment (as seen in the movie "Faster") as he slid round a corner and wheelied out of it. It was breathtaking stuff at 130mph. However, Sykes never got quite close enough and had to settle for 3rd place behind Kiyonari and Rea. Lavilla managed to hold off a late charge from Leon Camier to take 4th place, while Haslam took 6th behind them.

In the championship, Kiyonari's double puts him on 348 points, 26 ahead of Rea. Haslam is 60 points off the lead, with Lavilla 19 points further back. The title race looks to be between Kiyonari and Rea, with the Japanese the hot favourite. It seems to be all over for the two Airwaves Ducati boys, who will both be daydreaming about the possibility of riding Ducati 1098R's in World Supers next year.


Anonymous said...

Very compehensive and accurate report "Jimmy".. Well worth the effort .. Johnny W.

Jimmy said...

Thanks, "Johnny"!