Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 03 Dec 2015
Ryuichi Kiyonari has said he is more hungry to win than ever before after a disastrous British Superbike season with the Buildbase BMW team.
After fighting for the title with Shane Byrne last year, Kiyonari was a shadow of his former self in 2015, failing to record a single podium and finishing just nine races in the points.
Determined not to give up, Kiyonari will return to the British series in 2016 with the Bennetts Suzuki team.
Having ridden the GSX-R1000 at Suzuka earlier this year, Kiyonari believes the bike has potential and is pleased to be returning to a factory-supported outfit.
“It was a tough season this year,” said the three-times British Champion talking to Bike Social. “The Buildbase BMW team are good, but I’m looking for more, I want to be in a factory team.
“I decided I wanted to look into riding for Suzuki after Suzuka, the bike is good and has lots of potential even though it is the old model. I spoke to Martin [Halsall], who has big plans and wants to win the championship. It’s these plans that made me want to join the team, I want them and they want me.
“The team’s important technical staff are all from a world championship background, which is good. They know how to set a bike up and run a team!
“When I saw Christian [Iddon] and Josh [Waters] on the GSX-R last year I saw it had potential. To me it doesn’t matter even if we don’t run the new bike at all.”
Kiyonari’s career has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. First coming to BSB in 2004, he took the runner-up spot in his second season before winning back-to-back titles in 2006/7. He returned to Britain in 2010 to take his third title after a tough few years on the world stage.
A difficult 2011 season led Kiyonari to take a year out of British Superbikes in 2012, moving back home to Japan where he won the All Japan Road Racing Championship before another return to Britain with Honda the following year.
Another tough season saw him sever ties with the Japanese marque he’d ridden for throughout his career in favour of a switch to BMW for 2014. Despite a slow start, Kiyonari made a miraculous return to form mid-season to mount a title fight he would probably have won had he not broken his collarbone in a free practice crash at the final round of the season at Brands Hatch.
Remaining with Buildbase BMW for the 2015 season, things didn’t work out how either party had hoped, with Kiyonari suffering his worst ever season in the British Championship, placing just 20th in the overall standings, something he says makes him more determined to win than ever before.
“After this year was so bad I have a different feeling, so much hunger to win, more than before,” Kiyonari explains. “I’m nervous as it’s a new challenge, but we’ll see.”
Despite British Champion Josh Brookes moving on to the world stage next year, Kiyonari reckons there are plenty of riders who’ll be fighting for the title.
“I think Shakey will always be the man to beat, even with Ducati,” he continued. He is one of the best riders in British Superbikes, the best rider! Laverty will also be fast on the BMW and my team mate, Tommy Bridewell, can’t be ruled out either. Honda too. It will be hard but I don’t mind that.
“Now I’m thinking about winter testing, I cannot wait. With some teams already testing in Spain, I’m a little bit frustrated!”