The British Superbike Championship may have been won by Shane Byrne at Cadwell Park last month but the battle for the other coveted top two positions still rages on. Honda Racing's Steve Plater is the man on a proverbial mission as he strives to close the gap on John Reynolds and Michael Rutter who lie second and third respectively in the ultra-competitive series.

With two race wins from four starts, Plater has been the form rider of the championship for the past two rounds at Oulton Park and Cadwell Park. In addition, he has put together an impressive string of mid-season results, which has seen him elevated to fourth position in the British Superbike Championship - only 16 points behind Rutter.

The 31-year-old Lincolnshire rider puts his success down to the work ethic at Honda Racing: "We may have got off to a slow start," he said, "but everyone at Honda Racing has been fully committed to helping me get the best out of the VTR1000 SP-2. We took a major step forward with the suspension at Oulton Park, which gave me more rear grip.

"I was fired up for Cadwell because it's my local circuit and winning the second race was like a dream come true," Plater continued. "I like the Indy circuit at Brands Hatch too and I'm really happy with the way I'm riding. The times will be very close in qualifying, but I'm confident that we can carry our recent form through to the end of the season - we'll have to wait and see."

Plater's team-mate Mark Heckles missed the last round at Cadwell Park through injury after a crash in free practice ruled him out of the Bank Holiday Monday race action. However, the 27-year-old Liverpudlian is determined to bounce back after being passed fit to ride the Honda Racing VTR1000 SP-2 at Brands Hatch.

"I was gutted at having to miss Cadwell," explained Heckles, who also sat out the last round at Brands Hatch in June through injury. "The bike was going well, as Steve proved, which made it all the more frustrating for me. However, I was pleased for the team because they have worked so hard to achieve success this season.

"My shoulder feels OK now, but I'll not really know what it's like for sure until I get back on to the bike. I had a big crash at Paddock Hill Bend in free practice in June, so this time I'll be treating it with a bit more respect. I'm really looking forward to getting back to one of my favourite circuits this weekend and I'll be hoping that I can build up my pace through to race day."