Noriyuki Haga is hoping that a faithful friend will help him in his quest to close the 45-point gap that has opened out between himself and World Superbike Championship leader James Toseland.

The Japanese ace is determined to recapture his race-winning form from earlier in the season as the championship heads to one of its - and Haga's - favourite venues, Brands Hatch, for the third and final outing on British soil this weekend. With just four double-header rounds to go before a new champion is crowned, the Yamaha Italia rider knows that he needs to find the top step of the podium again, but is confident that Kent could be the right place to do so.

Brands Hatch has frequently been a lucky charm for Haga, who has been on the podium in every race held there over the past three years. Having completed a victory double in 2004, he returned to take a win and second in 2005 - with fastest lap of both races for good measure - and then took third and first last year. The fan favourite knows that his Yamaha does not lack pace, having claimed a second straight superpole at Brno last time out, but will be hoping that the team can get to the bottom of the grip problems that plagued both him and team-mate Troy Corser in the Czech races.

"I'm pleased to be going to Brands after Brno," Haga admitted, "I need a good result after the disappointment of Brno and I've always had good finishes at Brands. My focus is now very much on the championship title. I've trained very hard this year, mentally and physically, and we've worked hard on the bike and set-up. I'm confident and I'll be pushing hard this weekend."

Although he knows that Toseland and WSBK convert Max Biaggi will probably rival him in the support stakes, Haga is hoping that another British staple may aid him in his quest for victory.

"I know there has been a lot of rain in England recently, and I'll be as happy if it rains on race day - just as I will if it's dry," he said, "Rain will mean survival of the fittest and I'm ready for that."

Team-mate Corser is also keen to do well this weekend after an equally frustrating outing at Brno. The Australian's last win at Brands Hatch came in his 2005 championship campaign, but he has taken three pole positions at the UK venue and is keen to get back on the podium before the championship heads into a five-week break.

"It can only get better after Brno!" he smiled, "I'm confident I would've been on the podium if the [engine] bolt hadn't broken, so I'm determined to win this weekend. I like the layout at Brands and the atmosphere's great there, but I must admit it's not been my favourite track over the years, more because of the close proximity of the walls than anything else. But, rest assured, I'll be pushing this weekend!"