British Superbikes arrives at the ultra-fast Thruxton circuit in Hampshire this weekend, venue for rounds five and six of the 2003 championship, with Renegade Ducati eager to eat into Shane Bryne's early season points lead.

"Michael (Rutter) and Sean (Emmett) have underachieved so far this season, and have made things far too easy for Shane Byrne," declared Team Principal Mark Griffiths. "If he thinks his dominance is going to continue he is sadly mistaken and we aim to put things right starting this weekend."

With two podium finishes at Thruxton last season, Emmett should know exactly what it takes to win, but the 32-year-old former GP and WSB rider hasn't had the best start to the season, and needs two strong races this weekend.

"I go well around Thruxton and I think the factory Ducati will really suit the circuit," said Emmett. "Thruxton is all about race craft, being in the right position on the last lap as you exit Church and start the run down to the chicane. You need to decide in the last couple of laps what you're going to do, but get it right on the final lap and you can easily come through from fourth to take the win.

"I'm looking forward to the weekend ahead; we've got points on the board now, so I just need to get out there and start reducing the gap to the likes of Michael and Shakey in the championship standings," added Sean.

Rutter is also looking forward to making his return to the Thruxton circuit, having qualified on pole by almost a second and taken a race win for the team at the same round last season.

A crash last time out at Snetterton means that Rutter will arrive at Thruxton 27 points adrift of Byrne, but the 29-year-old West Midlander is confident that he can close the gap to his former team-mate this weekend.

"Thruxton is scary fast, but the racing is always real close, we've gone well there in the past and I'm looking forward to the weekend ahead," said Rutter. "The fact that you've got a combination of 170mph corners like Church and the 30mph Club Chicane makes it an interesting track to ride, but it does mean it's almost impossible to set the bike up to work well everywhere.

"As long as we can find a set-up to handle the bumps around the faster parts of the circuit during practice and qualifying, I'm confident we'll leave Thruxton a lot closer to Shakey in the standings than when we arrived," declared Michael.

Incredibly fast and bumpy, Thruxton is widely regarded as the most physically demanding track on the British Superbike calendar. Two 22-lap races around the ultra-quick Hampshire circuit is a punishing ordeal for any rider, but for Nick Medd, still recovering from a fractured collarbone, the weekend ahead promises to be an even tougher challenge.

"Obviously the shoulder injury is an issue, but I'm hoping that the improvements we made to the bike at Snetterton, together with the fact that I'm starting to get the hang of riding a big V-twin, will mean that I won't be asking as much of the shoulder at Thruxton as I have previously," said Medd. "In terms of my aims for this weekend, the first is to qualify for the Dunlop Super 12 shootout and the second is to be close enough to the guys in front of me to make a race of it on Sunday."

"I was pleased for Nick and his family following his display at Snetterton, where he scored his first ever Superbike points despite his persisting injury," said Griffiths.



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