The chase for the British Superbike Championship heads for an Easter Monday showdown at Brands Hatch and, although it is only the second round, Sean Emmett - the local favourite - is already playing catch up on his two major rivals for the country's premier crown.

Michael Rutter and John Reynolds took a win apiece in the opening meeting to jointly lead the series, while MonsterMob Ducati rider Emmett had to settle for fifth and fourth places which leave him 17 points adrift.

"I'm a bit disappointed, and we had a few problems in the first round, but still kept in touch, and now the time is right to redress the balance," Emmett reflected, his confidence increased both because he enjoys riding the tight, demanding Indy circuit and also because his team have received more parts from Ducati which he reckons 'should give us a lot of speed'.

"I'm feeling good," Emmett, bidding to become the third rider in as many years with Paul Bird's highly professional team, admitted, "The new parts are encouraging, so those people who say this is Honda's year had better watch out.

"Brands is my favourite and I particularly like Paddock Bend - you go into it blind, and it can be quite intimidating, a bit scary, but it is also a great place to overtake."

Emmett will be looking to use that to his advantage to head off the rivals for the crown in what is building into one of hottest ever series. Five of the world's leading manufacturers are fielding factory-supported teams, none more obviously than Honda who had the hierarchy of their racing division at Silverstone to see Rutter give their latest Fireblade race victory on its debut, with his team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari tucked in just behind.

The Hondas look awesome, but already Reynolds, twice the former champion, has shown they can be beaten. The Rizla Suzuki rider is respected as one of the hardest, most competitive racers who knows only one thing - and that is going out to win. His bike has been developed over the past two seasons, and now Reynolds reckons it
can regain the 'number one' plates for him.

Around these early season pace-makers, keep an eye on the challenges coming in from the Hawk Kawasaki riders Scott Smart and Glen Richards, together with Ducatis in the hands of Dean Thomas and former British Supersport champion Stuart Easton. Steve Plater, heading up the Virgin Mobile Samsung Yamaha challenge, will be looking for top-three finishes, with Gary Mason and Tommy Hill pressing hard.

And, in the championship's race within a race, Jon Kirkham will be aiming to extend his lead in Superbike Cup, a competition for privateers riders. The young Derby racer has fought hard to put together the necessary finance together to compete, and his early season form he hopes will attract sponsorship.

Ranged against him are James Ellison, Dennis Hobbs and Marty Nutt, who managed to embarrass a number of the factory-backed riders with a storming ride in difficult conditions in the opening race.

Also on the bill is the second round of the British Supersport series, in which defending champion Karl Harris will be looking for a repeat of his success over Craig Jones, while, in the National Superstock series, Ben Wilson will be under fire from Andy Tinsley and Simon Andrews. Christian Elkin and Kris Weston aim to scrap for victory in the British 125GP Championship, but need to be mindful of the challenge coming in from Eugene Laverty. Adam Jenkinson aims for a second successive success in the Virgin Mobile Yamaha R6 Cup.

 

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