World Superbike Championship leader Max Biaggi is ready to take the fight to his title rivals at Imola this weekend.
The Italian is extra motivated to excel on home turf at the historic circuit on the factory Aprilia RSV4 and has fired a warning shot across the bows of his championship opponents.
Biaggi, who was in classic form at Phillip Island in Australia where he won the first race and finished second in race two after battling his way through the field from last position on the opening lap, said: “We have a long road ahead of us and we can't let ourselves be deceived by what we demonstrated at Phillip Island. Every race makes its own history.
“I'm in perfect shape and so is the team; if there's battle to be done we will certainly not be retreating. The two days of testing at Aragon confirmed the progress our rivals have made. This is shaping up to be a championship with quite a few contenders for the title.
“We aren't frightened by the challenge, (rather) to the contrary,” added the five-time world champion. “It's what we need to keep us vigilant and 100 per cent committed race after race.
“A lot of our fans will be at Imola and that is just more motivation to do well.”
His team-mate, Northern Ireland's Eugene Laverty, is determined to make up ground in the championship after he was thwarted by a hand injury at Phillip Island last month.
Laverty, who was forced to retire from race one before recovering to secure some points with eighth in the second race, said: “Imola is the most physically demanding circuit on the calendar, so I'm pleased that I'm nearly back to full fitness.
“I've twice finished on the podium at Imola in the World Supersport Championship, but it's one of the few circuits where I haven't won and I'd love to challenge for a victory this time around.
“It's a long season though so the most important thing for me at this stage is to build up some momentum after such a tough start to the season.
“We enjoyed a two-day test at Aragon recently where I had the chance to get more comfortable on the Aprilia, so hopefully that will be evident at Imola.”