John Reynolds and Steve Hislop continue their power-duel for the British Superbike crown in the double-race fifth round of the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch this Sunday - but can expect a stern challenge from James Haydon at the Kent circuit.

The two former champions have dominated the season's early exchanges, winning all of the races between them so far, .but Haydon, recovered from another injury, is back for another crack at the top step of the podium.

The Berkhamsted rider had been expected to be among the early pacemakers in the scrap for the domestic title, but the Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha team has still to taste the winner's champagne, something Haydon intends to put right at a circuit where he has a good pedigree.

He has fully recovered from the hand injuries sustained in a crash during the previous round at Oulton Park, and is eager to show what might have been as he charges into the heat of the action on the full Grand Prix circuit on which he and is title rivals will be hoping to be riding in next month's European round of the World Superbike Championship.

The challenge from Haydon will be strong, as already underlined by his hard-riding performances, but the Ducati duo of Reynolds and Hislop have held the upper-hand largely through their better get-a-ways at the start of the races.

Haydon will be working on his strategy for what is a crucial round in his bid to put his title challenge back on track, while for his two rivals, the return to the Kent circuit has differing memories. For Reynolds, the high spot of his long and illustrious career was his winning ride in last October's finale to the World Championship while, for Hislop, there is the chance to put the record straight after the horrific crash last August that threatened to end his career.

The 'Flying Scot' discovered in the aftermath of that crash that he had broken his neck, but his recovery is complete and three victories in the British championship, highlighted by a winning-double last time out aboard the MonsterMob Ducati at Oulton Park, underline his fitness.

That speed and determination by the British champion of 1995 is putting the pressure on Red Bull Ducati's Reynolds who, despite winning five of the eight races so far, and taking second placings in the other three, has only a 17-points advantage in the title stakes.

The Nottingham rider, winner of the crown in 1992, is in no mood to let anything slip, but will need to be at his best to fend off the expected frontrunners, bolstered again by the returning force of Steve Plater aboard the Kawasaki.

The Lincoln rider, recovered from the wrist injuries sustained at Silverstone, will be among the leaders, as will his team-mate Michael Rutter, while Clarion Suzuki's John Crawford is eager to make at least the top three to maintain his fourth place in the rankings ahead of Sean Emmett and Paul Brown.

In the chase for Privateers' Cup honours, Shane Byrne is in a class of his own - he has ridden the Performance House Suzuki to victory in each of the eight races so far, to be comfortably clear of Lee Jackson and Nigel Nottingham, who need to end his winning spree if they are to have any chance of overhauling him in the second half of the season.

Adrian Coates will be bidding for a third victory of his British 250cc title campaign to extend his 13-points advantage over South African former grand prix rider Shane Norval, while Aussie ace Paul Young intends to complete a nap hand of victories in the fifth round of the British Superstock Championship.

Matt Llewellyn needs to power his V&M Yamaha to victory to catch-up on British Supersport leader Kirk McCarthy. Casey Stoner and Paul Robinson will continue their 'head-to-head' for the British 125cc title and, in the British Junior Superstock Championship, Richard Cooper, Matt Layt and Declan Swanton all need victory to reel in the points leader Ben Wilson in what will prove to be another highly competitive affair.

Qualifying for all classes, including the final grid-deciding Dunlop Superpole sessions for both the British Superbike and Supersport races, takes place throughout Saturday 16 June, with the seven-race programme concentrated on Sunday afternoon, starting at midday.

 

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