WorldSBK

Ryuichi Kiyonari calls time on WorldSBK career… again

Ryuichi Kiyonari won't be on the grid for the 2020 WorldSBK Championship season but will instead race with Honda in the Japanese Superbike 1000 series

Ryuichi Kiyonari isn’t in the running for the last remaining Honda seat on the 2020 WorldSBK Championship grid as he will return to the All-Japan Superbike Championship this season.

The Japanese – a former MotoGP rider - is one of the most successful riders to have ever competed in the British Superbike Championship, clinching the title on three occasions in 2006, 2007 and 2010 with Honda.

However, unlike former BSB rivals Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam, success hasn’t been so easy for Kiyonari to replicate on the WorldSBK stage with a two-season stint in 2008 and 2009 yielding three wins and six podiums.

A return to BSB and then to the JSB1000 series in Japan - where he started his career – followed before Kiyonari received a surprise call up to compete in the 2019 WorldSBK Championship Honda Moriwaki Althea Racing, a full decade since his last full-time outing.

However, it was a tough year for Kiyonari, regularly outperformed by Leon Camier, as well as his injury stand-ins, and often privateer Alessandro Delbianco on the Mie Racing CBR1000RR.

How many Hondas will be on the 2020 WorldSBK grid

As such, though there was talk Kiyonari was on a two-year deal to compete with Honda (or Moriwaki) he will instead compete with the manufacturer in the JSB1000 series in a deal that will also see him compete in the Suzuka 8 Hours, where he is a four-time winner.

With the final entry list for the 2020 WorldSBK Championship still to be announced – and now several weeks later than usual – there is confusion over how many Honda CBR1000RRs will be on the grid this season.

For certain, Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam will ride the factory-backed HRC superbikes, while the privateer MIE Racing outfit – run by Moriwaki but no longer involving Althea Racing – revealed it had signed Takumi Takahashi in one of its seats.

However, it is yet to announce a second rider amid talk it could slim down to just one bike or withdraw the team altogether.

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