The legendary status of London's closest racetrack in the collective memories of the SBK world is quite simply unsurpassed. The natural restrictions which make Brands Hatch one of the more difficult venues in which the teams have to work are also what make it one of the most entertaining and rewarding short circuits imaginable.
By and large nature has dictated the shape and layout of the 4.197km Brands long circuit, and, as is often the case, nature has proved the best designer of all. From the impossibly challenging Paddock Hill Bend to the high-speed turns of Hawthorn's; from the uphill/downhill Druids Hairpin to the main straight - which is not in fact straight at all - Brands Hatch is a natural amphitheatre to the deities of the internal combustion engine.
Other tracks, such as Assen and Monza, have had longer Motorsport lives, but for SBK racing Brands Hatch is its own true place of devotion. This is, in large part, thanks to the endless enthusiasm for SBK racing shown by the British spectators, and the close proximity of Brands to Britain's most populous city.
James Toseland on the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda has already won a race on British soil this year, at Donington Park, but after a race two technical breakdown there, and a subsequent near-washout at Silverstone, he is more than keen to extend his impressive championship lead with an even greater haul of victories than the six he currently has.
After a pivotal Brno race two weeks ago, where Toseland scored a win and a second place, the 2004 champion enjoys a 43-point lead over his nearest challenger, once more the enigmatically brilliant Max Biaggi
riding the Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra. Biaggi also scored a second place and then a win at Brno, but at Brands Hatch, he faces the toughest challenge of his 'rookie' year. He has never even seen the place before, and Brands holds many pitfalls to trap the unwary newcomer, from its frequent on-and-off camber corners to its blind approaches to the bumps and surface changes below the canopy of trees that line the furthest reaches of the circuit.
On Biaggi's side, however, is the fact that he demonstrates the most methodical approach to qualifying and racing imaginable, making it a bold pundit who would write him off before the qualifying results are all in.
In the most recent round Noriyuki Haga
aboard the Yamaha Motor Italia was the class act in qualifying and Superpole, but his race day performances did not quite match up. He is, nonetheless, only two points from Biaggi, 45 from Toseland, even if he does have 2001 and 2006 champion Troy Bayliss
on the Ducati Xerox machine a mere 11 points behind him in the current standings. Both Haga and Bayliss have won races at Brands, but in terms of recent success, Haga is the man to beat, having scored four wins in the last six races.
Including Brands there are some 200 points up for any rider who can win all eight remaining races, so despite Toseland's impressive lead, there is still everything to gain, not only for the top four riders, but the top four manufacturers they represent - Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati.
Troy Corser on the second Yamaha Motor Italia bike has speared many a Brands Hatch victory in the past but this year he is still waiting for his first win of the season, despite looking poised to score full points on many occasions. The 1996 and 2005 World Champion is a master of Brands and has won on a four-cylinder machine to boot. That machine was a Suzuki GSX-R 1000, in 2005, and the latest 2007 version may well do some serious damage to the podium places at Brands, thanks to podium placer at Brno and recent Suzuka 8-Hours race winner, Yukio Kagayama
on his Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra. Currently tenth overall, Kagayama way be another good bet for Brands success, especially have spent two years racing in the BSB Championship.