Max Biaggi will look to spark his title defence into life when the World Superbike Championship returns to Donington Park this weekend.
The reigning champion was well beaten by Carlos Checa as the Spaniard established a ten-point lead after the opening weekend of the season.
The 38 year old has history against him though, as he has never finished in the top five in any of his visits to the Leicestershire circuit.
Despite this being the 'European' round of the championship, this is very much a British occasion. The fans in attendance will have four riders to support, each with a chance producing something special
Leon Haslam leads the charge after his podium finish in Australia. Third in race one was followed by a solid fifth in race two, and the BMW Motorrad rider feels his local knowledge could prove an advantage.
Racing in England any time of the year is a great occasion for both the British fans and myself, so I can't wait to get back to Donington,” said Leon. “The weather conditions in the UK are not always in our favour but the track is only 20 minutes from my house and I have a lot of support. I know this circuit 'like the back of my hand' so I really am looking forward to it and I hope we can make that next step forward and continue to push at the front.”
Castrol Honda's Jonathan Rea will also be targeting the podium after a strong start three weeks ago. The Northern Irishman took fourth in race two, despite a painful fall in the Superpole session, and is fighting fit this weekend.
“I'm in pretty good shape after quite a painful start to the season in Australia, but I've spent the last three weeks working hard on my training and having a lot of physio. I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to ride pain-free at the weekend”.
Tom Sykes and Leon Camier will also fly the flag, but former World Champion James Toseland will be missing after fracturing his arm in a testing accident at Aragon.
Donington Park returns to the World Superbike calendar after a one-year absence, and Team Suzuki Alstare's Michel Fabrizio describes the challenge that lies ahead.
“Most of the track is pretty flowing, but there are couple of places where you have to be really hard on the brakes and that is why a good set-up and well-balanced bike is vital”, he said. “The last time we raced at Donington, I finished with a podium in race two, so my memories of it are pretty good. I understand that the track has been modified a bit since then, so we will all be starting off learning about the changes and what effects they have on getting a good set-up”.
Fabrizio lies fifth in the championship after the opening weekend, but his fellow countryman will be the man to watch this weekend. After being left behind by Checa in Australia, Biaggi will be focused on regaining the form that earned him the no. 1 he carries this year. If he does, we're in for a fascinating battle.