Equally in touching distance of the fight for fourth is Tom Sykes, despite an anonymous weekend in the United States, one that saw his unbroken run of 12 top ten finishes come to an end. Misano is another new circuit for the rookie, who will no doubt be turning his attentions to Donington Park in a week's time, but his Yamaha team has a good record around the San Marino circuit and he must now capitalise on it.
Like Rea, Ryuichi Kiyonari
and Carlos Checa, gave the Ten Kate team something to smile about at Miller Motorsports Park with some convincing – if not spectacular – performances over the weekend. Still, both remain off the back of the top seven heading to Misano and the circuit wasn't particularly kind to them last season either…
By contrast, some of this year's lesser heralded riders head to Misano looking to recapture some of their form from last season, not least Ruben Xaus, who scored Sterilgarda Ducati's first win twelve months ago by leading a 1-2 from Biaggi.
Both rider and team head to Misano desperate to improve their fortunes after a series of disappointing rounds. Although Xaus' form can be attributed to the 'newness' of his BMW team, a failure to score in the last four races means he is a world away from adding to his 11 WSBK victories…
Sterilgarda Ducati, meanwhile, gave a glimpse of a return to some kind of prominence at Miller, with Shane Byrne qualifying and racing well - save for just two errors that prevented him from getting the results he probably deserved. A home round for the Marco Borciani run squad, a victory repeat is unlikely, but a strong top six should be in the offing at least.
Others to impress at Misano in 2008, Troy Corser, Jakub Smrz and Lorenzo Lanzi, all return with points to prove too, not least the latter after making a return to competition in the USA as the replacement for the injured Regis Laconi.
As for the others currently hobbled on the sidelines, Max Neukirchner, Brendan Roberts and Makoto Tamada
remain absent following their Monza accidents, while Karl Muggeridge
won't race either after his Miller fall revealed existing injuries. Nonetheless, Misano does see the return of John Hopkins following his eight race lay-off. The American returns to the Stiggy Honda team attempting to pick up where he left off on his debut back at Valencia.
Elsewhere, Yukio Kagayama
plans to race on despite picking up ailments in the USA, while Fonsi Nieto
and Gregorio Lavilla will continue to deputise for Neukirchner and Roberts. Alex Polita will ride the Celani Suzuki in place of Muggeridge.
Meanwhile, Jamie Hacking's superb turn at Miller Motorsports Park – when he scored Kawasaki's best result since the end of 2007 – has been rewarded with two more outings at Misano and Donington Park.
One rider change has occurred in the three-week gap, with Tommy Hill being dropped from the Althea Honda line-up in favour of their experienced Supersport competitor Matthieu Lagrive.