The first official public appearance of the 2004 British Superbike participants takes place this Sunday (March 14), when Donington Park will stage a special preview day for race fans.

Much attention is expected to be focussed on Sean Emmett, who has joined reigning champions MonsterMob Ducati over the winter. Emmett has been the 'nearly' man for several seasons, but now surely has his best chance of taking the title - which would be Paul Bird's third in a row as a team owner.

The man most likely to thwart Emmett's efforts is twice former champion John Reynolds, who continues for a third term with Rizla Suzuki this season alongside fit-again team-mate Yukio Kagayama.

The new HM Plant Honda line-up, of established BSB frontrunner Michael Rutter and former MotoGP rider Ryuchi Kionari - who set the pace in recent testing - will also be keen to make an early impression on the British fans.

Steve Plater has switched from them to ride for Virgin Mobile Yamaha, alongside Gary Mason and young Tommy Hill, while Glen Richards and Scott Smart head up the Hawk Kawasaki challenge.

Add the threat of hard riding Aussies Craig Coxhell on the Team Vitrans Honda and Dean Thomas riding Dienza Ducati, plus the return of IFC with a pair of Suzukis for John McGuinness and Paul Brown - and former Supersport champion Stuart Easton riding ETI Ducati - and the competition up-front will be intense.

That rivalry is also likely to spread through the pack, as the series, which now has MotoGP promoters Dorna as its commercial partner, provides a race within a race for riders aboard non-factory backed bikes.

Among the privateers entries bidding for Superbike Cup glory will be Nick Medd, Sam Corke, Paul Jones, John Kirkham and Gordon Blackley on a grid that provides no less than 32 starters.

The preview day also provides a taste of the action ahead in the supporting championships for British 125GP, Supersport, Superstock and the Yamaha R6 cup - with the first bike due to take to the track at 09.00am.

The 13 round British Superbike Championship visits ten venues throughout Great Britain plus Mondello Park in the Republic of Ireland. For the first time, there will be a round held at the popular Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire as well as the return - after a one year absence - of Mallory Park.

All events will continue to receive over three hours live television coverage on Sky Sports together with a Superbike highlights show on BBC's Grandstand programme.

 

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