The World Superbike Championship rides back into town this weekend as the series makes its always successful jaunt to the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.

With its sweeping, undulating layout, the high-speed track has long been a favourite amongst the best riders, while the thrilling battles it has thrown up in the past means the circuit is rated highly by the 100,000 or so fans who visit every year.

Although British flags will be aimed at wild-card riders this season, there is still likely to be plenty of action from our continental friends, not least championship leader Troy Bayliss, who is looking to bid farewell to one of his best loved tracks in style.

This is despite the fact that he can almost kick back and concentrate on just finishing after his 50-points haul last time out at Brno helped him stretch his lead to a rather comprehensive 79 points. Although his advantage has been as large as that once before this season, you get the feeling his Miller Motorsports Park faux pas was a flash in the pan for a rider of such calibre and poise...

Indeed, the Bayliss has a good record around Brands Hatch and merely needs to keep his Xerox Ducati pointing in the right direction if he is to take one more significant step towards becoming the first rider to retire on the ultimate high of a championship win.

Once again, his closest competition in the points comes courtesy of Max Neukirchner. Although the German's fine performance this season will certainly leave him satisfied, he maintains that he is still chasing what is becoming an increasingly unlikely title offensive. Nonetheless, an improvement on two tenth places in 2007 will signal yet more progression for what is likely to be a future star of the championship.

If Neukirchner and Suzuki don't step up to the breach, then Yamaha are likely to pose Ducati's biggest threat this weekend. The Japanese manufacturer has been on fine form in recent rounds, with Noriyuki Haga's double at the Nurburgring and Troy Corser's sheer consistency arguably making them the most likely package to stop Bayliss and Ducati.

Corser has been particularly impressive, especially in qualifying, with another podium in Brno helping him up to third place in the overall standings. Still chasing that first win with Yamaha, Corser is well placed - again - to achieve that this weekend.

Haga, meanwhile, looks increasingly as though he will have to give up on his title offensive for another year after a pair of rounds that managed to undo his fine efforts at the Nurburgring last month. Down to fifth in the standings, Haga will need a very good end to the season if he is to change his fortunes.

Between the two Yamaha riders in the standings is Carlos Checa, who continued to struggle somewhat with the Ten Kate Honda at Brno. Much like Haga, Checa has been unable to shine since his double win in the United States, with mediocre top ten results dropping him to fourth overall. Nonetheless, with a Suzuka 8 Hours win fresh in his pocket, it may well prove the confidence fillip the Spaniard has been looking for to get back on the podium.

If second to fifth in the overall standings is tight (20 points cover Neukirchner to Haga), then the battle for the positions just behind is even closer.

Fonsi Nieto continues to lead the way, although the Spaniard has now dropped off the leading pack after a run of disappointing results continued at Brno. He is now 49 points behind Haga and only 13 ahead of Ruben Xaus.

Although he failed to finish either race in the Czech Republic, Xaus holds onto seventh overall, marginally ahead of Ducati counterparts Michel Fabrizio and Max Biaggi. Just one and two points respectively behind Xaus, both riders performed well at Brno and will be looking for something equally similar this weekend.

Rounding out the top ten is Ryuichi Kiyonari, who showed off glimpses of his potential with a stunning performance at Brno that defied the Ten Kate Honda's recent general form. Also fresh from a Suzuka 8 Hours triumph, Brands Hatch was also the venue for Kiyonari's two British Superbike title clinchers, so expect a good showing this weekend.

Along with adopted British rider Kiyonari, the ever popular - and spectacular - Yukio Kagayama will be a draw for many this weekend, as will former BSB Champion Gregorio Lavilla.

Nonetheless, fans will at least have real British riders to cheer on in the shape of the wild-card contingent of Tom Sykes, Simon Andrews and Chris Walker.

Sykes arrives at Brands Hatch on a high after securing his first BSB victory at Oulton Park earlier this month. Riding the recognisable Rizla Suzuki, Sykes is expected to get amongst the frontrunners this weekend.

The same could be said for Andrews, who will be riding the Lloyds Jentin Yamaha that has been troubling the factory-prepared bikes in the BSB.

Walker, meanwhile, makes his return to World Superbike competition after penning a deal to compete with Paul Bird Motorsport's Vent Axia VK outfit. A former race winner, 'The Stalker' will no doubt win some new fans to his army of followers.

Elsewhere, there are even more Brits to cheer on in the World Supersport race, namely Brno winner Jonathan Rea. Craig Jones will also be present as he bids to break his WSS duck, while wild-card riders Karl Harris, Steve Plater, Billy McConnell and Hudson Kennaugh will also be familiar to spectators.