World Superbike championship leader James Toseland takes a 50 per cent win record to round six, at Monza, this weekend - where he will aim to overcome some fired-up 'locals' and finally seize his first double victory.
Toseland's unrivalled ability to win a race per meeting so far in 2007 has propelled him 32 points clear at the top of the standings, but a double victory has so far eluded him - due to a mix of bad luck and hefty competition.
That level of competition has seen five of the current top six riders taking at least one win this year, and with four other race winners from past seasons also in the Monza mix, competition for the podium places will be as intense as ever on Sunday.
But for one rider Monza will take on special significance. Having been drafted into the WSBK paddock this season, current second placed rider Max Biaggi will have the chance to race in front of his home crowd for the first time in two years - and for the very first time on a Superbike.
The Monaco-based Roman has lived up to the pre-season hype, scoring the first win of the year at Losail, in Qatar, and resisting the early season pressure of all but the hyper-motivated and consistent Toseland - but must be growing desperate for that second win..
But the Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra rider is by no means the only Italian with his eyes on a prize at the magnificent parkland circuit this weekend.
Factory Ducati star Lorenzo Lanzi is desperate to get back to winning ways after a prolonged dry spell, while Toseland's Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate Roby Rolfo would surely give just about anything for a top three as the pressure to perform grows. A dark pre-race horse is DFX Honda's Michel Fabrizio, one of the leading privateers and man who has already shown he can take podiums in the top class - just not so far in 2007.
It is impossible for most riders to approach Monza without at least a nod towards the emotions that racing on such a historic and speed-obsessed circuit brings to the surface. But for two of the top few, it means even more to their teams than it does to themselves: Yamaha Motor Italia is based only a fast highside away from the Lesmo corners at Monza, and they more than any other team can consider Monza as a true home race. Their riders, Noriyuki Haga and Troy Corser, are currently third and fifth respectively, and each is more than capable of a race win or two on the fast new Yamaha R1.
The other home team is, of course, Ducati - whose reigning champion Troy Bayliss has had a somewhat disturbed start to his latest title defence, but at Assen last time out he proved to be right back to form; stalking then mugging Toseland on the line in race two to help secure a fourth overall in the championship chase.
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