Hannspree Ten Kate Honda man Ryuichi Kiyonari showed that he has the pace to run at the front of WSB with a classy fourth place at Valencia, but was disappointed not to claim his first ever WSB podium.
In what was easily his best result of the season, the Japanese rider finished 7.2 seconds behind the race winner Noriyuki Haga and ahead of WSB big guns, Troy Corser, Yukio Kagayama, Ruben Xaus and Max Biaggi.
Kiyonari has shown constant progression since switching from BSB to the World Championship after finishing 22nd and 19th in round one at Qatar, ninth and sixth in Australia with a DNF due to an electrical fault in race one and a fourth in Spain.
Kiyonari benefited from an up graded motor for the Valencia round which gave his CBR1000RR more speed and acceleration.
Speaking to MCN after securing his best result of the season, Kiyonari said: “It’s better than Australia, but I’m still disappointed because at the beginning of the race I was very slow.
“At the start of the weekend my aim was to run in the front group but when I qualified on the second row my target changed and I wanted to be on the podium.
“Before the start of the race I felt confident in the set-up of the bike and my tyre choice.
“I thought I would be fast but it was difficult to pass at this track especially Fonsi Nieto on the Suzuki, which is very quick.
“I was able to make good passes into turn two – this is my corner.
“I am good under braking and into the corners but to pass there you need big balls.
“ I still feel that I need to be smoother and carry more corner speed. My feeling with the tyres is coming better and now I am starting to understand.”
Although Kiyonari is upbeat about his results he knows the next three rounds will be difficult because he has minimal experience at Assen and no previous knowledge of Monza and Salt Lake City.
He said: “Before each race I have been able to test at the circuit which has made things a lot easier, but the next three races will be more difficult.
“The only one I know is Assen but still I have not raced on the track since the layout changed so it will be very hard.”