If it isn't hard to guess who will come away as the 2009 MCE British Superbike Champion, then the greater challenge is surely predicting who will be on the grid from race-to-race?
Leon Camier and Airwaves Yamaha may be romping away to the title following their imperious performance this season – save for Camier's blip at Cadwell Park -, but the 'musical chairs' behind him have almost been as interesting.
Indeed, rider changes have been a constant fixture throughout the season, but this weekend's round at Croft
signals arguably the strongest field of the year so far.
The most notable appearance is that of double champion Ryuichi Kiyonari, who returns to his former HM Plant Honda team to try and boost their 2009 total following a series of rider changes brought on by injury (Glen Richards) and suspension (Josh Brookes).
The move is also a chance for the World Superbike rider to regain some confidence following a series of disappointing recent performances on the Ten Kate Honda that haven't lived up to the promise of his multiple race winning debut year in the category.
While some see this as a prelude to a potential full-time return in 2010, Havier Beltran's insists the motivation behind calling upon Kiyonari was that fellow WSBK
alumni Karl Muggeridge was unavailable to race at Croft. Nonetheless, his reappearance certainly brings some star quality to the grid and is likely to provide Camier, who could be heading in the other direction next year, a good test for his capabilities.
Kiyonari's arrival goes some way to overshadowing the return of Brookes too, the Australian making a cautious return to action following the two-race suspension for his Mallory Park
faux pas. Desperate to put the accident behind him, Brookes had been gathering some momentum in his quest to hunt down Camier prior to the incident, although it remains to be seen how much the break will have interrupted his progress.
Honda counterparts Hydrex have also undergone a change for Croft, with Karl Harris' being dropped in favour of Tommy Hill. Hill was considered an obvious choice for the team following the announcement that Harris had been released from his contract, the former BSB
race winner having impressed on his brief outing with the Worx Crescent Suzuki team earlier in the season.
He faces a challenge though, with Harris' fourth place in the standings having not been good enough for the ambitious team. As such, Hill will be expected to get close to Stuart Easton if he is to see out the season with them.