Preview – Monza.

In his first eight races with the new Ducati 1098 F08, the 39-year-old from Taree has taken the chequered flag on five occasions, finished second twice and has only been off the podium once, in race two at Losail.

But having seen a once dominant title lead slip away during 2002, Bayliss will be taking nothing for granted - especially since his nearest title challenger is a WSBK rookie, and should thus improve as the season goes on.

That 'rookie' is former MotoGP star Carlos Checa, who looks more than ready to take his debut WSBK victory - but needs to improve his qualifying and first lap form. Monza will be a bit of an unknown quantity for Checa, since it is not on the MotoGP calendar, but the speed of his Ten Kate Honda will certainly prove to be an asset.

Three podium appearances this year, including a second place at Phillip Island, are the results that have helped to take double world champion Troy Corser to thir din the standings for Yamaha Motor Italia.

Corser has been winless since Phillip Island in 2006, but Mr Superpole's qualifying form - 41 poles to his name, on five different makes of machinery - continues to be outstanding and a breakthrough for the 36-year-old Australian on the YZF-R1 machine is surely not far away.

Two Spanish riders Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki Alstare) and Ruben Xaus (Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati) are next up, fourth and fifth with 85 and 81 points respectively. Nieto appears to have lost his way somewhat since his opening round win, while at Assen Xaus was one of the key contenders but was eliminated early on by Haga in race one before picking up a useful fourth in race 2.

The last two rounds have seen Noriyuki Haga hit superb form on the second Yamaha Italia, based a stone's throw away from the Autodromo. The 33-year-old from Japan picked up a win and a second place at Valencia and Assen, but would certainly be much further up the table than his current sixth place had he not suffered two DNFs from the last four starts. However Haga scored a dominant double victory at Monza twelve months ago (pictured) and will doubtless be aiming to do the same again this weekend to restart his title ambitions.

Max Neukirchner (Alstare Suzuki) scored a podium and a fifth place in the Netherlands and is fast becoming the top Suzuki contender. The 25-year-old German from Stollberg has been in World Superbike since 2005 but now he has the right machinery to emerge Max is becoming a regular front-runner. From one Max to another, this time Biaggi, whose positive recovery from a wrist fracture took a wrong turn at Assen as a lack of feeling with the front end of his Ducati 1098RS caused him to miss out on Superpole and score two disappointing results in the two races.

Gregorio Lavilla (VentAxia VK Honda) and Lorenzo Lanzi (RG Ducati) make up the top 10, the Spaniard will be looking to exploit his machine's impressive top speed, while Michel Fabrizio will be fit to race following recent forearm surgery. Jakub Smrz (Guandalini Ducati) is another rider to watch as he tries to transform his recent impressive qualifying form into positive race results.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Troy Bayliss (AUS), Ducati Xerox Team, Ducati 999F07, 21 Noriyuki Haga (JPN), Yamaha Motor Italia, Yamaha YZF R1, 41 James Toseland (GBR), Hannspree Ten Kate Honda Team, Honda CBR1000RR, 52 2007 Superbike World Championship, Round 6, Monza, Italy, 13
Rea, Bayliss, Superpole, Australian WSBK, 2017
Sykes, Bayliss, Superpole, Australian WSBK, 2017
Melandri, Bayliss, Superpole, Australian WSBK, 2017
One minute silence for Pirovano and Salom, Monza WSBK 2016
One minute silence for Pirovano and Salom, Monza WSBK 2016
One minute silence for Pirovano and Salom, Monza WSBK 2016
Salom and BAyliss, Race 1, Thai WSBK 2015
Bayliss and Salom, Race 1, Thai WSBK 2015
Bayliss and Ciabatti, Race 1, Thai WSBK 2015
Bayliss chequered flag, Race 2, Thai WSBK 2015
Bayliss, Race 2, Thai WSBK 2015
Bayliss, Race 2, Thai WSBK 2015
Bayliss, Race 2, Thai WSBK 2015
Bayliss, Race 2, Thai WSBK 2015
Bayliss and Ciabatti, Race 2, Thai WSBK 2015
Changing Pirelli tyres on Bayliss, Thai WSBK 2015
Changing Pirelli tyres on Bayliss, Thai WSBK 2015

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