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SUPERBIKES REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2005
The 2005 Bennetts British Superbikes championship proved to be one of the most exciting in living memory, helping the series live up to its billing as the best national bike championship in the world. The season always promised to be one of the most competitive in years with a host of established names battling it out with a crop of emerging talents, and fans were not to be disappointed. However, few would have backed Gregorio Lavilla as the man to emerge as 2005's surprise champion, with the Spaniard having started the campaign without a ride. His rise and rise was undoubtedly the story of the year, although a number of other riders including Ryuichi Kiyonari, Michael Rutter and Leon Haslam also made their mark, while former champion John Reynolds bade goodbye to both the championship and the sport after an injury-plagued campaign.

Round One
Brands Hatch

Having looked a class act throughout pre-season testing on board HRC's HM Plant Honda FireBlade, Japanese starlet Kiyonari took a double in the opening round at Brands Hatch, streaking away in the first race to win comfortably. Second, and setting the tone for what was to be a memorable season, was Lavilla, the 31-year-old was not originally scheduled to race at the Kent circuit, but an injury to Ducati Airwaves rider James Haydon saw him step in and he grasped the opportunity with both hands. He followed up that second place with a third in the next race, a performance that persuaded Haydon to stand aside and present Ducati with the chance to take him on for the season. Kiyonari edged out Sean Emmett in the second race to take ensure he walked away with maximum points, while Reynolds, just 38 days on from breaking his right leg in five places in an horrendous pre-season injury, produced two stoic displays to finish with a pair of ninth-place finishes.

Round Two
Thruxton

Kiyonari continued his scintillating early form with another double success at Thruxton in the second round. The rising Japanese star held off the challenge of team-mate Rutter in the opening race to win by almost ten seconds, but was given a sterner test in the second outing when Lavilla again demonstrated his potential with a second place. Having not ridden competitively on a Ducati since 1998, the Spaniard served notice of his potential on the Italian machine with another steely display that saw him move up to second in the championship standings. It was day of disappointment for Reynolds who was forced to pull out of the second race and also Jeremy McWilliams who had returned to the domestic championship from the MotoGP scene. The Ulsterman crashed out of the first race sustaining an injury that was to dog him all season, and managed only ninth in the second.

Round Three
Mallory Park

Round three saw Rutter ignite his season with a double success of his own. Racing at his home circuit, the Leicestershire-based rider took advantage of a heavy fall from previously undefeated team-mate Kiyonari in the first race to take the chequered flag ahead of Australian Glen Richards and improving British youngster Leon Haslam. Kiyonari was not seriously injured, but was forced to sit out the second race which was also full of incident. It was held in three parts after a crash involving Tommy Hill and Danny Beaumont which spilt oil on the track, but Rutter again held off Richards with Lavilla coming home third.

Round Four
Oulton Park

Rutter assumed the championship lead after another win at Oulton Park in round four, while there was also a first win of the season for Haslam. Rutter started on pole after proving comfortable quickest in qualifying, but made a poor start in race one and was forced to climb his way back through the field. However, he had done so by lap seven and never looked back, easily keeping the rest of the field at arm's length. Haslam, who had to ride the first race on his spare bike after a crash on the warm-up lap, made amends with a fine display in the wet in race two. He held off a determined late challenge from Rutter, but the Honda man eased clear in the standings with team-mate Kiyonari not racing following his injury at Mallory Park.

Round Five
Mondello Park

Kiyonari was back in action and on form as the championship switched to Mondello Park in Ireland for round five. The Japanese rider dominated race one, taking advantage of a mistake from poleman Jonathan Rea to run away with victory after assuming the lead at the very first corner. He finished ahead of Rutter and Lavilla, but could not repeat the does in the second race of the afternoon as Lavilla clinched his first win of the campaign in a dramatic finale. The Spaniard pipped Haslam by just 0.018 to emerge victorious with Kiyonari only a further four tenths of a second back. Rutter had to settle for fifth but maintained his lead in the standings.

Round Six
Croft

Kiyonari and Lavilla once again took a victory apiece at Croft, but Rutter ensured he kept the upper hand in the title race with a pair of second places. Rutter, who started from pole in the first race, looked to have matters in hand, but a mistake let through team-mate Kiyonari on lap six and the Japanese star never looked back as he went on to claim his sixth win of the season. Lavilla, who finished in third in the first race, continued his fine form by prevailing in the rain-hit second. He took advantage of the red flags to pull level with leaders Rutter and Kiyonari on the restart and eventually got the better of the pair, with all three riders finishing within a second of each other. Rutter took second with Kiyonari forced to settle for third.

Round Seven
Knockhill

The Japanese youngster made inroads into Rutter's championship lead at Knockhill with a double victory, but could not shake off his team-mate who kept in touch with two more second place finishes. However, nobody could get close to Kiyonari around the Scottish circuit and he won by very comfortable margins in both races. Indeed, he was some 12 seconds clear of Rutter as he took the flag in race one, with Ulsterman Michael Laverty producing a courageous display to claim his first podium of the campaign. It was similar story in race two as Kiyonari quickly opened up an unassailable lead over Rutter, but Lavilla made sure he kept in touch at the top of the championship standings by taking the final position on the rostrum.

Round Eight
Snetterton Park

Round eight at Snetterton Park saw more action-packed racing with championship leader Rutter defying a broken collarbone to bravely notch up two more point-scoring finishes. The Honda rider tumbled in qualifying but opted to ride on and only found out the true extent of his injuries after the two races had finished. Clearly impeded by the problem, he could only muster fifth in the first race as team-mate Kiyonari held off the challenge of Haslam and the resurgent Reynolds to emerge victorious. However, he crashed out in the second allowing Lavilla to boost his title challenge with a hard-fought win over Laverty, his third of the season, while the brave Rutter made the podium in third, just ahead of Reynolds.

Round Nine
Silverstone

It was at Silverstone that Lavilla truly began his surge for the championship as Rutter faltered, missing out on the podium in both races. The Spaniard made him pay by taking a first and a second, while Kiyonari boosted his hopes with a victory in the second race of the afternoon. Things looked to be going well for Rutter in the opening exchange as he led either side of a stoppage caused by a three-rider accident at Copse Corner. However, Lavilla sneaked past him after a small error and an even bigger mistake on the final lap, when he ran wide at Woodcote, allowed the Spaniard an easy victory with Rutter having to settle for 14th after making his way back on. Leon Haslam took second and added another podium in race two as he finished third. However, he could make no real inroads on Kiyonari and Lavilla ahead of him with the Japanese rider taking the honours after a fine front-running display.

Round Ten
Cadwell Park

Lavilla moved into the championship lead with a pair of second places in round ten at Cadwell Park. After staring the day in third some thirty points off leader Michael Rutter, the Spaniard again demonstrated his consistency and surpassed the Honda rider who finished a lowly eighth in race one and crashed out in round two. Youngster Tommy Hill sprung a surprise by taking the chequered flag in race one. The 20-year-old took advantage after Haslam and Lavilla had come together on the final lap, moving up from third for his maiden win the class. Haslam eventually had to settle for sixth, but made amends in the next race as he led home team-mate Lavilla. Kiyonari kept his championship challenge alive with a fifth and a third after starting down in 11th on the grid.

Round Eleven
Oulton Park

Kiyonari was back on top form at Oulton Park where he won both races to ease back ahead of Lavilla in the championship race. The pair produced two thrilling finishes with the Japanese ace just edging out the Spaniard on both occasions. In the first race he prevailed by just a couple of seconds, but race two saw an even more titanic battle with Kiyonari beating Lavilla by just 0.004 seconds after out-breaking him at the final corner. Rutter's championship push all but evaporated as he came home a disappointing tenth in race one and crashed out of race two.

Round Twelve
Donington Park

Lavilla made what proved to be a decisive move in the championship race by taking back-to-back wins in the penultimate round at Donington Park. In doing so he pulled out a 13-point lead on Kiyonari who came home second and third on the afternoon. Having clinched pole the Spaniard always looked like the man to beat and so it proved as he led from start to finish in race one. He did not have things all his own way in the second as Kiyonari and Honda team-mate Rutter battled it out at the front in the early stages. However, after passing Rutter on lap six to assume the lead, he did not look back and went on to complete his first win double of the season at the most timely of junctures.

Round Thirteen
Brands Hatch

His two wins at Donington in the previous round meant Lavilla went into the final round at Brands Hatch knowing exactly what he had to do to win the title. With a 13-point lead over nearest challenger Kiyonari, the Spaniard just had to keep the Japanese youngster at arm's length. He duly did so with a win in race one which all but secured the title as Kiyonari finished back in fourth. That victory meant Lavilla needed just one point from the second race of the afternoon and he clinched the championship crown in real style as he took second behind team-mate Haslam - setting a new lap record in the process. It was the end to what had been a remarkable season for the Spaniard who was struggling for a regular ride just a few months earlier. Kiyonari again finished fourth in the second race to finish the championship some 32 points behind Lavilla, while Rutter - who was subsequently released by Honda - had to settle for third overall ahead of the resurgent Haslam.

Source: Sky Sports website

2005 Championship Points

Riders


1 G Lavilla Ducati 461
2 R Kiyonari Honda 429
3 M Rutter Honda 371
4 L Haslam Ducati 350
5 G Richards Kawasaki 241
6 D Thomas Kawasaki 198


Teams

1 Honda 558
2 Ducati 533
3 Kawasaki 295
4 Suzuki 254
5 Yamaha 187
 

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i just watched the '03 season of WSBK, in which Hodgson won the championship. Lavilla was in WSBK on a GSXR1k. he was pretty much the only guy to consistently be in the top five and not be on a ducati.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Lavilla has been almost there for a number of years, just waiting for the right bike. Apparently he was in the running for a ride on the Suzuki in World Superbikes but was pipped for the job by Corser & Kagayama. Then getting a ride on the Ducati in BSB everything just gelled with the bike, team & rider. It was like watching a fairy tale unfold as the season progressed. Honda & Suzuki were favourites at the start of the season but incredibly good teamwork won in the end.

This year the championship is going to be very hard to call. Kawasaki, Ducati, Honda & Suzuki are going to be in the running, the only uncertainty is the Yamaha.

I think GSE, the Ducati team are long term looking at returning to World Superbikes and are using BSB to prepare for that. They have been runners-up to the Ducati works team a few times in WSB before.

Do you get any coverage of BSB in the USA?
 

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unfortunately there is on BSB coverage here, that i know of. i have to go to the local "cool" video store. they don't have all the BSB seasons, though. theWSBK or MotoGP DVD's don't compare to the BSB DVDs.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Have you got 2003 season?

Glen Richards' performance on the ZX-7RR was real edge of the seat stuff :eek

Hawk were running ex-works WSB bikes that season :cool
 
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