The MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship makes its much-anticipated return to Snetterton in Norfolk this weekend (July 1-3) as the title contenders prepare to battle for victory on the new 300 circuit for the first time.
The title protagonists are all determined to make their mark on the circuit which underwent a massive redevelopment programme over the winter and with six different race winners already this season fans can expect another two epic BSB races on Sunday.British Superbike Championship leader Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne currently holds the advantage from USA’s John Hopkins and Tommy Hill, and has already claimed that taking the first ‘300′ win on Sunday would hold special significance.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda CBR1000RR British Superbike) says: “I think Snetterton has always been a cool track. The old layout was pretty straightforward and the changes that have been made are definitely for the better.“To win for the first time at the new track would mean a lot; I want to win every race but to do it on the new layout would certainly be something to celebrate. The HM Plant Honda has been fast all season and there is no reason why we shouldn’t come out fighting again at Snetterton.”Byrne leads former MotoGP star Hopkins in the standings, but the Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki British Superbike rider has, for the first time this season, more track knowledge than his rivals following a recent test at the circuit. Hopkins suffered a crash at Knockhill two weeks ago but the American ace is determined that it won’t affect his chance of victory this weekend.John Hopkins (Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 British Superbike) says: “We had a good test at Snetterton recently and although I was still a bit sore from the crash I had at Knockhill I still managed to match the lap times we did at the pre-season test so I was happy. I have had some treatment since then so I am the best shape I can be and there’s no doubt that once I am racing the adrenaline will kick in, with the support you get from the fans and the whole race atmosphere it will be at the back of my mind and just about getting the results for the title. I didn’t race on the old layout but the new track is awesome; I think the fans are in for a good show this weekend.”Only the top six riders in the BSB points table will be able to contest the championship over the final three rounds later this year, known as the ‘Showdown.’ The battle is intensifying among the pack of eight riders below the current top four who are separated by just 27 points as they bid to secure the remaining ‘Title Fighter’ places. Triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari is feeling more confident after taking fourth place at Knockhill, but after two disappointing rounds at Croft and Thruxton he needs to match the form that has previously taken him to six victories at the Norfolk circuit.Pushing him hard will be Peter Hickman on the Tyco Honda and Jon Kirkham who already has notched up a win for Samsung Crescent Suzuki. Michael Rutter, Gary Mason and Loris Baz are also in the mix while the rider with the most to prove is Josh Brookes for Relentless Suzuki. He is languishing in eleventh place and needs a rapid return to the form that saw him win twice at the circuit last year if he is to bid for the crown.In the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class Glen Richards riding the WFR Honda has the edge in the standings but he has Simon Andrews on the Buy-Force.com PR Kawasaki and Buildbase BMW rider Barry Burrell closing him down.In addition to the two MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship races there are a further eleven support races this weekend. New elevated spectator banks have been constructed for 2011, giving fans and unrivalled view of the action at Snetterton. There will also be three STIHL giant TV screens around the circuit on Sunday’s main raceday. Fans can meet their on track heroes during a free of charge pitwalk on Sunday and there will also be a funfair on site for children.