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|11-22-2008, 05:55 AM||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Spettacolare?.....Just a Little Bit.
Perving around the Ten Kate CBRs in their garage during the WSBK media day, I noticed double British Superbike
champion, winner of the 2008 Suzuka 8 Hours, and favored son of HRC, Ryuichi Kiyonari . Kiyo was keeping a very low profile, so much so that none of the journos seemed to realize who he was. I recognized him for sure: Kiyonari's qualifying performance at Donington WSBK, sliding his CBR around like a bar of soap in a bathtub, was mind boggling. Italian sportcasters called the lap "spettacolare!" I said hello to Kiyo and attempted to get some insights into his superhuman Superpole lap.
I say "attempted" because during the entire discussion, Kiyo was giggling like a 15 year-old High School student giving a reproductive organ presentation to his health class. Ryuichi's English vocabulary seemed fairly limited (to be fair, far better than our Japanese). While he politely answered my questions, Kiyonari is clearly more comfortable sliding a superbike around a soaking racetrack than he is being grilled by well-fed journalists. Here's how the interview went:
Q I wanted to ask you about your lap in the rain at Donington. It was the most incredible riding anyone has ever seen, of any rider in the rain.
A [Laughing and nodding] Thank you.
Q Everyone - Davide Tardozzi, everybody - was like, "Wow." It was incredible.
A Especially machine feeling is good. Otherwise I cannot ride, cannot control. But I don't know. In braking, entering, front feeling much better. Only consideration only front. The rear is, no, I don't care. Just ride, any okay. And the exit, also my machine's good traction. Good weight every time. And then I can control [inaudible] exit of corner just right, I can control.
Q Did you turn the traction control down, or was it set high for the rain?
At this point, Kiyonari stopped giggling, and really focused on getting his point across. He wanted to impart in no uncertain terms that his incredible machine control was entirely down to the rider, NOT the electronics on the bike. He put his thumb and forefinger perhaps a 1/2 inch apart, and replied:
A .....just a little bit.
Q Because it looked like the traction control was in your hand. (I made a "twisted wrist" gesture with my right hand as I said this)
A I like control my hand. I don't like too much control, electronic control, I don't like. But I can - if I use more, maybe more, less spinning, and less moving. But I prefer my control. It's more feeling, and more fun.
Q I think you earned many, many, many fans in the USA and all over the world just from the Superpole lap you did in the rain.
A Oh yeah? [Laughing] Thank you.
With this, Kiyo nodded, smiled, and walked off to talk to his crew. I can't really refer to this as an "interview", it was more like polite banter. Although that one amazing lap of Donington will remain in the minds of fans and competitors alike for years to come, Ryuichi Kiyonari didn't seem to want to dwell on it. It was just one lap out of the thousands he'll ride this year. But in these days of debate over traction control, rider aids and electronics, he got his point across, through all the giggles and language barriers, about that one Superpole lap:
That was all me out there; not the damned gadgets.
by jim mcdermott
Friday, November 21, 2008
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