Preview – Imola.

Stiggy's Leon Haslam had been the leading Honda rider at the start of the year and was once again in podium contention in Germany, before a little misfortune left him sixth and fifth at the flag.

The rider with the most points in the last four races, after Spies, is Aprilia's Max Biaggi with 1-2-5-4 results. The Italian rider and Italian machine will be making their final appearance of the season on home asphalt and looking to make up for relatively tame results at Monza and Misano.

Meanwhile, rumours are flying that Biaggi could be joined by another Italian star this weekend, with reigning 250GP world champion Marco Simoncelli testing the RSV4 at Mugello ahead of what might be a WSBK race debut in place of the injured Shinya Nakano.

BMW's brand new WSBK machine is also gathering pace, with Troy Corser backing up a season's best fifth at Brno with sixth in race two at the Nurburgring. Imola might also see the return of Ruben Xaus following his leg fracture at Brno, but the Spaniard's participation will only be decided at the last minute.

Suzuki Alstare will once again be without injured leading rider Max Neukirchner, whose place alongside Yukio Kagayama will once again be taken Karl Muggeridge.

Fellow Australian Broc Parkes (Kawasaki WSRT) will also be looking for a much stronger showing than at the Nurburgring. He and team-mate Makoto Tamada will have a series of updates and both of them are aiming for top-ten finishes.

Despite three wins in the last four races, Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) has still not managed to make a decisive break from his World Supersport title rival, Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda).

22 points lie between the two, but this should be sufficient for the Coventry man to administer in the final three rounds of the season. Cal has proved to be the strongest rider out there in any case and Laverty's task is a tough one.

Even though he is still in with a mathematical chance of winning the title, Spain's Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki will just be aiming for his first win to accompany what has so far been an excellent season.

Other key protagonists are likely to be Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), who has won two races so far, and Brno victor Fabien Foret (Yamaha World Supersport). Italian hopes lie with Massimo Roccoli (Intermoto Czech Honda) following his excellent fourth place at the Nurburgring, and Michele Pirro (Yamaha Lorenzini).

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Champions both. Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards displayed exceptional character at Imola.
Chaz Davies, Ducati [Credit: Ducati Media]
Savadori, Imola WSBK 2017
Savadori, Imola WSBK 2017
Hayden, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Imola WSBK 2017
Alex Lowes, Imola WSBK 2017
Eugene Laverty, Imola WSBK 2017
Pitlane walk, Imola WSBK 2017
Savadori, Imola WSBK 2017
Eugene Laverty, Imola WSBK 2017
Eugene Laverty, pitlane walk, Imola WSBK 2017
Savadori, Imola WSBK 2017
Savadori, Imola WSBK 2017
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Pitlane walk, Imola WSBK 2017
Pitlane walk, Imola WSBK 2017

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