The 2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship kicks off at Brands Hatch this weekend, where the two most successful riders in the series' history - Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari - will start their quest for an unprecedented fourth title.
Byrne returns to his home circuit to begin his title defence for the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team and is also just two race wins short of Kiyonari's record tally of 43.
“Pre-season everyone is talking about me and Kiyo but I think there is going to be a great deal more to come from the other riders too,” said Byrne. “I genuinely think this is one of the most competitive Championships in the world and I think the racing is going to be really exciting across the classes.”
Kiyonari, returning to BSB after a season in Asia, agreed.
“I have come back to get good results again for myself, the team and the British fans,” he said. “I want to show that I am not finished, that I can be faster and can win again. There are many good riders in the championship like Shakey, Alex [Lowes] and Josh [Brookes] so it won't be easy, but I will be trying very, very hard to win again.”
The 2013 grid will feature a further six BSB race winners, all looking to upstage the 'war for four' contest. They include last season's title contenders Josh Brookes at Tyco Suzuki and Samsung Honda's Alex Lowes, plus former runner-up James Ellison at Milwaukee Yamaha, who spent last season in MotoGP.
The international field will also feature two domestic double champions as Italy's Matteo Baiocco bids for success for Rapido Sport Racing Ducati and Australia's Josh Waters makes his debut for Milwaukee Yamaha.
In addition to the two BSB races there will be eleven support races including the hotly contested Motorpoint British Supersport Championship.