Following extremely different short breaks from the 2005 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, both HM Plant Honda Racing riders are ready to return to racing in the series at Silverstone this weekend.
Championship leader Michael Rutter has spent the five weeks resting and recovering from a broken collarbone. The Leicestershire rider picked up the injury in a crash during a qualifying session at the last round of the series at Snetterton. However, this did not stop the 32-year-old from competing and collecting respectable fifth and third place finishes - despite having his shoulder heavily strapped.
Rutter has been a model of consistency in this year's title chase. He has finished all 16 races to date, including three victories and ten other podium positions aboard the HM Plant Honda Racing CBR1000RR Fireblade. He knows that he must maintain that form if he is to be in with a chance of retaining his current advantage in the series.
However, team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari remains hot on his heels in second position. The Japanese star is riding high after securing his first win at the prestigious Suzuka 8-hour endurance race in Japan at the end of July. He achieved this aboard a factory-backed Honda CBR1000RR with team-mate Tohru Ukawa.
Kiyo has racked up an impressive tally of nine race wins so far this season and every race that he has finished has seen him on the podium. However, the HM Plant Honda Racing rider has failed to start four races due to injury and crashed out of the second race at the last round at Snetterton. With five rounds and ten races remaining, the 22-year-old has a deficit of 45 points to make up if he wants to steal the coveted title from Rutter.
The chase is on at Silverstone this weekend, and with both riders campaigning the same tried and tested HM Plant Honda Racing machinery, the races are certain to be close.
Michael Rutter: "I'm looking forward to Silverstone this weekend and I'm determined to retain my lead in the championship. It's important to me to win the series this year, so I must remain focussed on achieving a strong qualifying position and using that to aim for victory in both races."
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I was disappointed not to have finished the last race of the championship at Snetterton, but my first win at Suzuka made up for that. I am feeling confident now and I am hoping to complete race distance in all of the remaining races of the season."