The 2005 Bennetts British Superbike Championship heads north this weekend for a visit to the picturesque Croft circuit in North Yorkshire for round six - and local fans are sure to be in for a treat. Last year, Croft was the best attended round of the series with just short of 30,000 fans turning up to witness the action.
This year, the racing is certain to be even closer with the title chase hotting up as the 13-leg series heads towards to the halfway point. However, despite rival challenges, it is HM Plant Honda Racing that still remains the dominant force, having secured an impressive eight victories from ten race starts.
Michael Rutter is looking forward to returning to Croft after he enjoyed a double victory aboard the HM Plant Honda Racing CBR1000RR Fireblade over the 2.172-mile track last year. He was also among the fastest three riders at the recent official British Superbike test at the track.
Team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari was unable to attend the same test due to his preparations for the prestigious Suzuka 8-hour endurance race in Japan. However, he enjoyed one of his better performances of last year at the track, securing two fourth positions over race distance. With five victories already under his belt for 2005, he certainly cannot be ruled out for another two podium finishes having returned to fill fitness after missing two earlier rounds due to injury.
Michael Rutter: "Croft was a good circuit for me last year and I'm in an even stronger position this time around. However, it's important for me to maintain - and if possible, extend - my lead in the championship. The competition is really stiff and it would be silly to underestimate any of the opposition at the moment."
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I am looking forward to Croft, but I will have to try hard to make the most of the practice sessions because most of the other riders came to the test. The HM Plant Honda Racing CBR1000RR is well suited to the track though, so hopefully I will be able to get a good enough result to move closer to the top of the standings."
Croft - vital statistics;
- Circuit length: 2.1270 miles
- Superbike lap record: 1:21.245 (John Reynolds)
- 2004 BSB race one result: 1. Michael Rutter; 2. Yukio Kagayama; 3. Scott Smart; 4. Ryuichi Kiyonari
- 2004 BSB race two result: 1. Michael Rutter; 2. Scott Smart; 3. John Reynolds; 4. Ryuichi Kiyonari