The World Superbike Championship returns from a one month hiatus this weekend at the German track of Oschersleben, the track where Colin Edwards magnificently wrapped up the 2000 World title with a dominant double victory. However the man to beat this time around appears to be Ben Bostrom who has now won the last five races in a row.

A large and enthusiastic Oschersleben crowd cheered the World Superbike Championship contenders on when the series first visited the twisty 2.28-mile track late last season. Such was the success of the meeting that this year's race, which starts with official practice on Friday 30th August is expected to be an even more prestigious and well-attended event.

Sitting on top of the Superbike mountain entering round 11 of the 2001 World Superbike Championship is Infostrada Ducati's Troy Bayliss, the man who has headed the Championship fight for the majority of the season.

More than two full race wins ahead of his closest challenger, Colin Edwards, Bayliss is firmly in control as the World Championship enters the final sector of the season. Edwards, the double race winner at Oschersleben last year, is looking to repeat his dominance and give his Championship defence one final kick-start.

The man whom Bayliss is now looking at with even closer scrutiny than Edwards is factory L&M Ducati phenomenon Ben Bostrom, mounted on the same spec-Ducati 996 as Bayliss. The 2001 Champion-elect has been unable to prevent the Dunlop-equipped Bostrom from running away with the last five races of the season at Misano, Laguna Seca and Brands Hatch.

If Bostrom is the rising star of the Championship then Troy Corser's recent form on his Virgilio Axo Aprilia makes him the least favoured of the top factory riders for Oschersleben success. The 1996 World Champion will be out to quash that notion and is never more dangerous than when he has been discounted by some of his peers.

Right with him in the Championship hunt is the man who has proved to be far more than the top privateer of the season, Neil Hodgson. A winner at Donington, Hodgson has virtually taken up residency alongside Bostrom on the podium aboard his GSE Racing Ducati.

Factory Kawasaki duo Akira Yanagawa and Gregorio Lavilla have found their 2001 season tough so far, with only a handful of podiums between them, but the expectations of riding on their Eckl team's home ground in Germany may spur them on to greater feats.

Frankie Chili has scored a race win this year aboard the new Suzuki, albeit only one in an otherwise unsuccessful season by his own high standards.

The 2001 Superbike season has been characterised by an influx of talented 'rookies' to the factory teams and while Honda's Tadayuki Okada has scored a podium finish in addition to finishing second in the gruelling Suzuka 8-hour marathon behind Edwards and Valentino Rossi, the other trio of factory 'novices' have yet to finish inside the top three. Ruben Xaus (Ducati), Regis Laconi (Aprilia) and Stephane Chambon (Suzuki) have all had hard introductions to the top four-stroke racing class, with none of them appearing in the top eight in points.