The Virgin Mobile Yamaha R6 Cup makes a welcome return to the British Superbike Championship this weekend as it enters its second year of competition with a bumper grid of thirty riders.

The one-make series, which enjoyed unprecedented success in its inaugural year, has attracted a wealth of young motorcycling talent as they gear up to claim the coveted prize at the end of the season - a place in the 2005 Virgin Mobile Samsung British Superbike team.

Riders from all over the UK have signed up to take part in the class that produced nail-biting action at eleven of the British Superbike meetings in 2003. The R6 Cup also featured as a support race to the MotoGP at Donington Park, an honour that will be repeated at this year's British round of the blue ribbon event.

However, before the riders make their way to Donington Park in July, the 30 young hopefuls will be honing their skills on the Yamaha R6s around the UK's top circuits.

The aim of the series is twofold; to find future British champions and to foster the wealth of young British motorcycling talent. All riders compete on identical Yamaha R6 bikes with minimal modifications resulting in close, competitive racing. The series also operates a 'drop score' rule in which riders have to drop their worst two scores at the end of season, therefore allowing for a few mistakes as they learn their craft.

Last year the series produced its first champion, 19-year-old Tommy Hill, who competes in the Virgin Mobile Samsung Yamaha British Superbike team this year.

Virgin Mobile R6 Cup organiser Rob McElnea is delighted that the series has attracted such a good following and he knows that the series won't disappoint its fans.

"Last year there were five riders that could have won the championship and I am sure it will be much the same in 2004," said McElena. "While we know that the series produced quality racers, it also fulfilled its second objective of attracting less experienced riders, who see this class providing them with the best opportunity to learn their sport in a professional environment.

"With the series televised live on Sky TV, as well as being the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary for the second year running, riders appreciate that it offers them an excellent level of media exposure that they may not experience elsewhere."

While many of the riders are new to the championship, a few faces return to the series, one of whom, Victor Cox, won a R6 race last year and is sure to be one of the firm favourites in 2004. The 'Vicar' knows that, while he is in with a chance to win, he certainly can't underestimate the new boys on the grid.

The Trowbridge-based rider commented it the build-up to the season start, "Everyone knows they have the same chance of winning as the next person; that's what is so brilliant about this series but, at the same time, you can't let your guard down for one moment. Like last year, I hope to win a race or two but it's a long season ahead and it's everyone's for the taking."