Max Biaggi's title defence has yet to really burst into life, but the Italian will look to capitalise on home field advantage this weekend.

The Italian has yet to stand on the top step of a World Superbike podium in 2011 as Carlos Checa has dominated the early stages of the season.

Checa beat the reigning champion into second place on both occasions in Australia before doing likewise last time out in Assen, giving him 33 point lead at the top of the standings.

So can Biaggi start the fight back at Monza? The Alitalia Aprilia rider was unstoppable 12 months ago as he did the double with two superb rides from pole position.

The RSV4 Factory machine came into its' own around the high speed circuit and will surely figure at the sharp end this weekend.

In his first year in World Superbikes, Marco Melandri will also relish the opportunity to compete in front of his home crowd, and the Yamaha rider enters this weekend four points behind Biaggi with a win already under his belt. Teammate Eugene Laverty will also fancy his chances after taking World Supersport victory here last year.

Jonathan Rea is also in contention after claiming Castrol Honda's first victory of the year at Assen but will be keen to banish the memories of last year after crashing out of the lead battle in race one.

The last time Leon Haslam visited Monza, he brought with him a comfortable championship lead, but things haven't gone to plan for the BMW Motorrad rider this term. Like his 2010 title rival, the Briton is winless so far and will hope for a return to form this weekend.

British fans will also be pleased to see the return of James Toseland. The Yorkshireman has missed the last two events with a fractured wrist and will be back on board the BMW S1000 RR this weekend.

 

2011 World Superbike Championship: The Season So Far:

 

AUSTRALIA EUROPE NETHERLANDS Pts
1 Carlos Checa 1st 1st 3rd 1st 3rd 1st 132
2 Max Biaggi 2nd 2nd 7th DQ 2nd 2nd 89
3 Marco Melandri 5th 3rd 1st 2nd 4th DNF 85
4 Jonathan Rea 12th 4th 5th 6th 1st 3rd 79
5 Leon Haslam 3rd 5th 4th 4th 12th 5th 68
6 Leon Camier 13th 6th 8th 3rd DNF 4th 50
7 Jakub Smrz 7th 11th 2nd 8th R 9 49
8 Michel Fabrizio 6th 8th DNF 7th 5th 7th 47
9 Eugene Laverty 4th 15th DNF 17th 7th 6th 35
10 Noriyuki Haga 9th 7th 6th 17th DNF 8th 34
11 Joan Lascorz DNF DNF 10th 5th 11th 12th 26
12 Troy Corser 10th 19th 9th 13th 6th DNF 26
13 Tom Sykes 8th 9th DNF 12th 14th 11th 26
14 Ruben Xaus 16th 10th 12th 10th 8th 14th 26
15 Ayrton Badovini 14th DNF 13th 9th 9th 15th 20
16 Sylvain Guintoli DNF 11th 11th DNF 10th 16
17 Roberto Rolfo 11th 12th 14th 15th DNF 16th 12
18 Mark Aitchison 19th 16th 15th 16th 10th 18th 7
19 Barry Veneman 13th 17th 3
20 Maxime Berger 20th 18th DNF DNF DNF 13th 3
21 Joshua Waters 18th 13th 3
22 James Toseland 17th 14th 2
23 Bryan Staring 15th 17th 1
Chris Vermeulen DNS DNS DNF DNS 0