After a gap of a month, the World Supersport Championship finally enters its second round of the year at the popular Phillip Island circuit - and a number of Honda riders believe that they are in with a chance of podium glory.

Phillip island was the venue for the first ever World Supersport race win by the latest Honda CBR600RR, in the hands of eventual 2003 champion Chris Vermeulen, and, while Vermeulen may not be in the 2004 field, there is a strong chance of another Honda victory for a rider of Australian origin, with the last three WSS races down under being taken by riders with Australian passports.

The Aussie competitiveness of the Supersport Hondas, according to the formbook at least, should be headed by the Ten Kate pairing, and the fact that action is about to be conducted in one of the venues that nurtured their careers merely adds another imperative to their efforts.

After going 1-2 in qualifying in the opening round at Valencia on 29 February, the Ten Kate Honda pairing of Karl Muggeridge and Broc Parkes will be hoping for a change in fortunes on home soil, having ended their opening race weekend eighth and with a DNF respectively.

For Muggeridge, the opening round is now an unalterable scene from history.

"The season's not all over yet and it's a long year with a lot of points up for grabs," he said, "The next race should be a lot better and it's good to be racing at home again."

Team-mate Parkes who was leading in Spain before lady luck deserted him, but is determined to put things right on home soil.

"I was really disappointed how things went at Valencia, but that makes me glad the next race is in Australia, in front of my home fans at Phillip Island," he stated, "I'm just going to have to make sure that I do my best to make up for it throughout the rest of the season and especially at home."

In the Klaffi Honda team, the mix-and-match of experienced campaigner Sebastien Charpentier and his young team-mate Max Neukirchner is an exciting one. Charpentier has already shown his sheer speed, but looks to the Aussie race to translate pace into a race finish, especially after the misfortune of being black-flagged out of the Valencia race. Ready to give the Ten Kate pairing and all comers a run for their prize money, Charpentier looks forward to a return to Aussie action.

"Phillip Island is okay for me and the Honda, and also the Pirelli tyres - because that's what won there last year," he declared, "I didn't race there last season, but I have experience from other races there. I like the track and for the Honda, with it being both fast and stable around the corners, it is a very good circuit."

Neukirchner, a teenager with European Championship experience in the 250cc class, made an excellent debut in Spain, scoring points for his 14th place finish. The young German hope approaches only his second Supersport race with a measured approach and keen determination.

"This is my first time at Phillip Island, so the first practice sessions will be vital for me," he noted, "I have heard that it is one of the best tracks we go to all year. I was happy to get 14th at Valencia, and I hope to get better and better each race - so I look forward to my fist visit to another new track."

The promise of another pairing comprising experience and youth may come to its first fruition in Australia's southern coastline, with former European champion Alessio Corradi and teenager Denis Sacchetti once more lining up for an attack in one of the most competitive and unpredictable championships in the world.

With two top ten finishes at Phillip Island to his credit already, Corradi is primed to mix it up with his peers again.

"I hope to run this race in front again," he said, "I know the potential me and of my bike on the track. I really hope to start on the front of the grid because Phillip Island is a technical track and the riders must have courage. I like this track so much, but I think that the Australians - Muggeridge, Parkes and Kevin Curtain - will be riding at another rhythm, although I will try to stay with them anyway."

Sacchetti, Team Italia's latest name on a frequently glorious list, is another rider approaching Australia for the first time.

"I will arrive in Australia with the target of learning the track, sorting my set-up and feeling on the bike," he said, "I want to understand the behaviour of it better, and also the work of the team. Now, I know the level of work done over a race weekend by the other riders of World Supersport Championship. For qualifying, I'm not expecting such good results but I hope to ride well and defend my position during the race."

The first round of the championship was won by Yamaha's Dutch star Jurgen van den Goorbergh, from his team-mate Fabien Foret and Suzuki's Katsuaki Fujiwara. The highest placed regular Honda rider in Valencia was Muggeridge in eighth.