Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) returns to the Autodromo Enzo & Dino Ferrari di Imola this weekend for the penultimate round of the 2006 World Superbike Championship and another championship finale, four years on from the memorable battle with Honda's Colin Edwards in 2002.
This time round however Troy finds himself in a completely different situation, having strung together ten victories throughout the 2006 season to stamp his authority on the series. This has left him with a comfortable 87-point lead in the standings, with two rounds (Imola and Magny-Cours) and four races left to run.
At Imola the 37 year-old Australian basically just needs to finish fourth or better in race 1, irrespective of how his rivals Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) or James Toseland (Honda) do, to clinch the World Superbike title for the second time.
"I have been thinking about this weekend for sure, but just normally really" said Troy. "My approach is the same as everywhere. We start off tomorrow, work on the bike, try and get a good race set-up and then go for the win. There are lots of different scenarios but the most important one is that I need a fourth or better and that wraps it up, but I'm certainly not going to be riding around for fourth place. I'm looking forward to Imola, I like racing here, I went pretty good in 2002 and had a great race with Colin. This time I'm sure Nori and James are out to do whatever they can to try and stop me but it's going to be difficult for them. Imola's a great track, lots of character but the surface is variable especially in the wet. But the forecast is looking good and we want to see a lot of people here on Sunday".
Team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi still has a couple more opportunities to search for that vital spark that has eluded him throughout the year, performances that will enable him to repeat his sensational race-winning form of the end of 2005. Imola presents an ideal opportunity as the 24 year-old from Cesena hails from just down the road.
"I am calm and relaxed even though I know that this race is going to be important for my future" declared Lorenzo. "I hope to start the weekend off well and go well, not only in qualifying but this time also in the races on Sunday. I like the Imola circuit, last year I went well in qualifying but then in the races on the wet track things were a bit more difficult. However this track is really great, all ups and downs, technical and difficult. I can undoubtedly count on some local support here; Sunday will probably be crazy at the Lorenzo Lanzi Fans Club curve, there will be a lot of them, hopefully I'll give them something to shout about!"
Troy and Lorenzo will be racing at Imola with a special emblem on the side fairing of their Ducati 999F06s in honour of a 'twinning' between the Friuli Aircraft Brigade, based in Bologna, and the factory Ducati Xerox Superbike Team. In addition on Sunday parachutists from the Friuli Brigade will make a spectacular jump onto the circuit between the two races.