Shane Byrne is hoping a testing 'breakthrough' will allow him to strength his early BSB points lead and hand him his first ever Croft podiums.

Byrne, who marked his return to the domestic series - after two years in World Superbike action - with a winning ride at Brands Hatch, has pulled in the points with two other podium finishes and a close fourth place.

That has put the Englishman 11 points clear of MSS Colchester Kawsaki's Stuart Easton, with Byrne's team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari - the reigning three-time champion - only a single point down on the Scot.

But not only has former double BSB champion Byrne never finished on the podium at Croft, he also arrives for this weekend's event with memories of a painful tumble on his last visit, back in 2008.

On that occasion Byrne battled to a sore fifth and fourth. This time he will be hoping for much better results, especially after sorting technical issues that beset the HM Plant Honda riders at Oulton Park.

"We had a good test at Darley Moor and sorted out the issues we experienced at Oulton Park," said Byrne. "We made a bit of a breakthrough, the team are working really hard and we should be able to get it right from the start in free practice.

"I am happy to be leading the championship, but its early days and this is a circuit where I have not had the best of results.

"I can't say I dislike it but it is not a favourite. That said the title is won over 12 rounds so I have to do the best possible job there. I will push on as hard as I can and hopefully get back to winning again."

In contrast to Byrne's modest record at the circuit, his best result in six appearances being two fourth placings, Kiyonari took four victories between 2005 and 2007, with a winning double in the latter though last year he took had a tough time, finishing eleventh and fourth.

The Japanese rider reflected: "For me Croft has been a difficult track in the past, although I have won there before. It is a completely different track to Brands Hatch and Oulton Park where we have raced already. It is very bumpy so the setting is going to be critical to be able to win.

"My bike is better than last season already with the work we have done over the winter - we have pushed hard to fight for the wins so I want to be on the podium and winning again at Croft."

Four different riders have taken a victory apiece so far this year: Byrne, Kiyonari, Samsung Crescent Suzuki's John Hopkins and Swan Yamaha's Tommy Hill.

American Hopkins is in buoyant mood after his maiden BSB success at Oulton Park, while Hill is recovering from ligament damage to his left shoulder which ruled him out of the Oulton Park races.



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