The 2008 World Superbike Championship reaches its conclusion at the brand new Portimao circuit this weekend, when newly-crowned triple world champion Troy Bayliss will make his final appearance before retirement.

Built in less than a year at a projected cost of almost 200 million Euros, the challenging Portimao track is currently undergoing its finishing touches, but it promises to be one of the most spectacular circuits in Europe and is a fitting climax for both this year's championships and the career of a World Superbike legend.

Bayliss was crowned champion for the third time one month ago at Magny-Cours and the 39-year-old Ducati star will hang up his leathers after a glittering Superbike career that began as a wild-card at Phillip Island in 1997.

Troy has been at the top of his game for the past eleven years - during which he also won the British Superbike championship and spent three seasons in MotoGP - and will be aiming to bow out on top, just as he did in grand prix racing.

The battle for the runner-up slot is also keeping the end of season alive as just nine points separate Yamaha Motor Italia WSB team-mates, Noriyuki Haga (325 points) and Troy Corser (316).

Both riders have plenty to aim for as they tackle their final races for Yamaha; Haga will be aiming to finish second for the second year in a row before 'replacing' Bayliss at Ducati, while Corser is still chasing his maiden R1 win after nearly two years of trying. Corser will ride for the brand new BMW squad next season.

Alstare Suzuki's Max Neukirchner, currently fourth on 298 points, can be satisfied with his debut season after scoring two wins, while Hannspree Ten Kate Honda's Carlos Checa, who also has two wins to his name, will want to finish off the season in style after failing to reach the rostrum in the last seven rounds of his rookie season.

The second half of the year has been much kinder than the first to Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati's Max Biaggi, who has bounced back from several injuries to string together five podiums in the last six rounds.

Biaggi, who will lead Aprilia's factory effort in 2009, still has to hold off the final attacks of Alstare Suzuki's Fonsi Nieto, one point behind him in seventh, while the other rider from Rome in the top ten, Ducati Xerox's Michel Fabrizio, is one slot down in eighth on 203 points.

WSBK rookie Ryuichi Kiyonari, winner of three races for the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team, returns after missing the Magny Cours round due to injury, while Ruben Xaus completes the current top 10 in the standings on 171 points in his final race for the Sterilgarda Ducati team before joining Corser at BMW.

Kiyonari and Checa will be joined by Jonathan Rea this weekend, the 2009 Ten Kate WSBK rider getting an early debut after swapping seats with Kenan Sofuoglu. Sofuoglu will thus drop back down to Ten Kate's WSS outfit, for whom he will ride in 2009.

The lead Kawasaki is that of Regis Laconi in just 17th place. The Frenchman, and team-mate Makoto Tamada, A word of mention also for the PSG-1 Corse riders R?gis Laconi and Makoto Tamada (20th), will be hoping that the unknown territory of Portimao can throw up some reward for their efforts.

No Superbike titles will be up for grabs in Portugal after Ducati completed its fifteenth Manufacturers' triumph to go with Bayliss's Riders' victory.

The World Supersport fight has also been decided, in Andrea Pitt's favour, after team-mate Rea was taken out by Robbin Harms at Magny Cours.

For Pitt it was his second Supersport title, seven years after taking his first on a Kawasaki, and the Australian can ride without any pressure this weekend.

Meanwhile, Rea's early switch to the premier-class means that he could lose second in the final standings to Hannspree Stiggy Motorsport Honda's Josh Brookes or even Yamaha's Broc Parkes, who has so far been unable to convert his sensational qualifying form into race wins this year.

Spaniard Joan Lascorz has re-emerged as a front-runner in this latter part of the season and is equal on points for fifth place with Frenchman Fabien Foret, who returned to the fray at his home round after injury destroyed his season.



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