WSBK » 4 September 2008
Preview - Donington Park.
Yamaha Italia's Noriyuki Haga, a winner of one of the races last season, is also a strong bet for victory. The Japanese rider looked very competitive at Brands Hatch - save for his fall in the first race - and remains just 22 points off second place overall.
Similarly, Carlos Checa is only 19 points off Neukirchner in fourth overall after a lacklustre weekend around one of the few circuits the Spaniard doesn't know. This time, however, the MotoGP-hosting Donington Park is a familiar venue for the two-time winner, while he will be hoping to steal back some of the thunder taken by the younger, in-form Ken Kate Honda team-mate…
Outside the top five, things remain close, with the gaggle of riders have now expanded to six following Kiyonari's vault up the championship table. Currently, Fonsi Nieto leads the way after a better performance at Brands Hatch than we have seen of late, while Max Biaggi will also be hoping the summer break hasn't disrupted his decent run of form.
Indeed, Corser wasn't the only double podium winner back in 2007 at Donington Park as Biaggi stood on the rostrum twice as well. The Italian was one of the stars at Brands Hatch after his charging ride in the first race, even if he did undo most of that good work with a fall in the second.
He is seventh in the championship at the moment, with Kiyonari eighth, while Michel Fabrizio and Ruben Xaus, who is fit again after picking up the flu at Brands Hatch, complete the top ten.
Away from the likely suspects, British eyes will undoubtedly be on the five wild-card entrants of Tom Sykes, Cal Crutchlow, Leon Haslam, James Ellison and Gary Johnson, not to mention Vent-Axia rider Chris Walker.
For Sykes, it is a second appearance on the world stage after a hugely successful outing at Brands Hatch that has been duly rewarded with a second attempt at Donington Park. He will be joined by Ellison, riding the Hydrex Bike Animal Honda, while Crutchlow and Haslam lead the factory-backed HM Plant team for their first outing this year. Meanwhile, TT racer Johnson will race a Honda this weekend too.
Beyond the obvious festivities, thoughts will also be centred on Craig Jones. The first event to be held since his tragic death at Brands Hatch, tributes are planned throughout the weekend to honour the fallen rider.
Meanwhile, in the World Supersport Championship, Jonathan Rea will look to make it three wins in a row on home ground, while there will also plenty of attention for Eugene Laverty, riding the Yamaha for the first time this weekend, as well as a number of wild-card riders.
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