Ryuichi Kiyonari clinches opening pole position by 0.029s from James Ellison
Ryuichi Kiyonari lapped under the Donington Park record to power his Buildbase BMW to pole position for the opening race of the 2015 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, edging just 0.029s ahead of James Ellison, whilst Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne completed the front row for tomorrow’s (Monday) races.
Kiyonari had been on the pace across the three elements of the Datatag Qualifying session, but the Buildbase BMW rider admitted that he was nervous before taking to the track to finally secure the first pole position of the new season.
Record-breaking title-winner Byrne completes the front row, but still not back to full fitness following his pre-season testing crash in Spain last month.
Australia’s Josh Brookes was only marginally down as he set the fourth fastest time aboard the Milwaukee Yamaha to head the second row, ahead of Stuart Easton on the second PBM Kawasaki and Danny Buchan, the reigning Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Champion, riding the Tommy Hill-managed Be Wiser Kawasaki.
RAF Reserves BMW’s Peter Hickman was seventh whilst Broc Parkes on the second Milwaukee Yamaha bounced back from a crash to qualify eighth. Honda Racing’s Dan Linfoot and Billy McConnell, who has returned to the top flight on the Smiths BMW having won the Motorpoint British Supersport crown with them last season, completed the top ten.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, P1, 1m:29.455s – “It was very hard and before the final part of qualifying I was really nervous, but now it is done I am happy and ready for the races. There will be big battles, but I will try to push as hard as I can, with no more crashes – I hope! My bike is good; the set-up is perfect, now it is down to me.”
James Ellison, P2, 1m:29.484s – “I’m a bit disappointed to be second because Kiyo beat me to it, but I am happy to be back on the front row. I had pushed as hard as I could and knew that he had a bit more to come. At the start of a new season second place is a good start and I am looking forward to the races tomorrow.”
Shane Byrne, P3 1m:29.659s – “It has been a tough weekend for us. I am not going to harp on about being injured, but in reality I am a bit rusty, so not as sharp as I should be.”
Josh Brookes 4th, 1m:29.725s – “It’s difficult to say how much we’ve improved – the bike was quite good in FP1 and I thought by FP3 we would do more, but that has not really been the case. We have key problems to address but it is all about understanding the bike; I want to go quicker and that is what we are all working to do. There is more to work on and we have to achieve that. For me, it does not feel like me out on the track and I hope to put something much stronger together for the races. I wanted top four in qualifying so in one respect I have achieved what I set out to do, but there are still a few things we need to decide for the races and I am fairly confident we can build a strong bike for the start of the race.”
Broc Parkes – 8th, 1m:30.368s – “Considering I crashed on the first flying lap at the first corner it was not the perfect session! Then in Q2 we had a problem with the bike and that did not run as smoothly as it could have done, but I was a second faster than I had been on race rubber. Going into Q3 I was not really happy and we made a change, but not quite to the next step. Definitely we will make changes to the bike before warm-up and we have a change of direction. We have been playing a bit of catch-up all weekend, but we are pretty close and if we can be consistent in the 1m 30s then we can be with the top guys – that’s the plan.”
“The team has worked so hard over the winter on the bike, but now we are not really where we wanted to be after me flicking it to the moon in testing in Spain. The front row is important, though I am a bit disappointed to be two tenths of a second down, but we intend to get that sorted.”
Billy McConnell qualified tenth quickest on the Smiths BMW after figuring as high as fourth on the first day of competition.
Josh Waters found himself inside the top 10 during Q1, but struggled in the second qualifying session with grip despite using the same set-up. He was unable to match his best time from the first session and will start race one from 20th on the grid.
Waters said, “We had a lot to work on in practice this weekend but I felt like we made a big step from the final free practice session to Q1. I was feeling a lot better and the times showed that. In Q2 we just struggled with rear grip again and I was a second slower, so that’s something that we’ll need to get to the bottom of for tomorrow’s races. It’s not where I want to be on the grid and I know the potential is there. We’ll keep pushing and try harder tomorrow.”
Team Manager Jack Valentine said, “It’s coming together, although probably a bit slower than we’d like. But we’re showing plenty of promise and I’ve been happy with the performance of the bikes. We’ve just had a few issues of inconsistency with rear grip which we need to work on for tomorrow. Christian actually went faster in the final free practice session than in qualifying, so we know where we can be, we just have a few things to sort to get there. Josh has also had issues with grip, while his team have also been working on the engine braking to get him where he can be. But we’re a new team, it’s our first qualifying session of the season, and we’re confident there’s more to come from the guys tomorrow.”
Jason O’Halloran qualified 23rd while countryman David Johnson will start from 33rd on the grid, the South Australian suffering badly from a lack of pre-season testing.
Luke Stapleford headed a Triumph 1-2 in the season opening Supersport race. Levi Day finished 12th outright but was the fourth highest finishing EVO sub-category machine.
Levi Day – “First race in British Supersport Evo and finished 4th! Happy with that, especially considering we took the bike for its first run out on Tuesday! We are still discovering a few things we can improve on and the team are working hard getting everything sorted!
“The grid for tomorrow’s race is determined on our fastest lap time today, and although I finished 4th, I had the 11th fastest lap time, so it’s put me far down the grid! Gonna have my work cut out for me in tomorrow’s 18 lap race but reckon we can pick the pace up and get back up there!“
Adam Jenkinson continued to head the Superstock 1000 times on a Yamaha ahead of Kawasaki’s Joshua Elliott and BMW’s Hudson Kennaugh.
Mason Law heads the Superstock 600 grid ahead of young Australian Benjamin Currie.
British Superbike 2015 – Round One – Qualifying – Superbike
- Ryuichi Kiyonari BMW 1m29.455
- James Ellison Kawasaki 1m29.484
- Shane Byrne Kawasaki 1m29.659
- Josh Brookes Yamaha 1m29.725
- Stuart Easton Kawasaki 1m30.058
- Danny Buchan Kawasaki 1m30.100
- Peter Hickman BMW 1m30.322
- Broc Parkes Yamaha 1m30.368
- Dan Linfoot Honda 1m30.382
- Billy McConnell BMW 1m30.533
- Luke Mossey Kawasaki 1m30.789
- James Westmoreland Kawasaki 1m30.803
- Christian Iddon Suzuki 1m30.809
- Howie Mainwaring Smart Kawasaki 1m30.826
- Michael Laverty BMW 1m30.832
- Chris Walker Kawasaki 1m30.886
- Tommy Bridewell BMW 1m30.929
- Lee Jackson BMW 1m31.230
- Richard Cooper Kawasaki 1m31.590
- Josh Waters Suzuki 1m31.766
- Robbin Harms BMW 1m31.239
- Martin Jessopp BMW 1m31.283
- Jason O’Halloran Honda 1m31.298
- Ian Hutchinson Kawasaki 1m31.330
- Filip Backlund Kawasaki 1m31.563
- Jack Kennedy Kawasaki 1m31.640
- Victor Cox Kawasaki 1m32.349
- Daniel Johnson Kawasaki 1m32.440
- Shaun Winfield Kawasaki 1m32.459
- Joe Burns Kawasaki