Motorcycling: Lavilla and Kiyonari set the pace on Superbikes

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The Independent Online

Gregorio Lavilla and Ryuichi Kiyonari shared the victories in the opening round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship here yesterday.

Lavilla, who had set the fastest-ever lap of the Indy circuit to claim pole start, won the opening race comfortably, having shaken off the early leader - his Airwaves Ducati team-mate Leon Haslam.

The race was stopped at two-thirds distance when Haslam crashed out of second place, but despite injuring his wrist and ankle, the young Derbyshire rider opted to return to the track for the afternoon's race run in difficult wet conditions.

HM Plant Honda rider Kiyonari opted for full wet tyres, and made them count, romping to victory by 19 seconds in one of the most exciting races in Superbike history. Lavilla was denied second place on the final lap by the determined Haslam. Lavilla now leads the title stakes 41-38 over Kiyonari.

Michael Rutter retired during the race with set-up concerns, while his team-mate Michael Laverty crashed out on the final lap.

The top privateer was Marty Nutt, who came home in the championship points by finishing 15th.