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Lavilla to replace injured Kagayama in BSB at Thruxton

Lavilla to replace injured Kagayama in BSB at Thruxton

Lavilla to replace injured Kagayama in BSB at Thruxton

John Reynolds hates being second, and the leader of the THINK! British Superbike Championship is determined to set the record straight with a winning double as he powers into the sixth round at Thruxton on Sunday 6 June, but just as the Rizla Suzuki rider considered that life at the top could not be any tougher, he faces another strong in-team challenge.

Team boss Paul Denning reacted quickly and positively when he learned that the team's Japanese star, Yukio Kagayama, was sidelined by injury for this round, signing up top Spanish rider Gregorio Lavilla to race alongside Reynolds at the super-fast Hampshire circuit.

Lavilla, fifth in last year's World series, with seven top-three finishes, brings a wealth of experience, and will be pushing hard for victories, while Kagayama recovers from the broken right collarbone sustained in a crash during qualifying for the Suzuka 300km race last weekend.

Reynolds, who had been under intense pressure from Kagayama, being beaten by him three times in four races, now faces an equally tough task to head off Lavilla, as clearly there are no team orders at Rizla Suzuki. However the Nottingham rider, twice the former champion, intends to extend further his healthy 33 points advantage at Thruxton even though he has not tasted the winner's champagne during the past four races.

"I've got to something about that - racing is about winning, and that is what I am out there for. I may have increased my lead in the series, but that does not mean I am happy at being beaten," Reynolds reflected, adding, "I want nothing short of a pair of victories in this round."

The Nottingham rider has proved a model of consistency in a series that has produced no less than five different race winners so far this season - three times a winner himself, he has yet to finish a race outside the top three, but there is no complacency, rather, there is increased motivation to bring to an end a run of four second placings.

That could prove to be difficult. Michael Rutter, who topped 20l mph as he won the recent NorthWest 200 road races, goes into these races having to play catch-up on Reynolds after seeing 25 points slip from his grasp in the first of the two races at Mondello Park when he was thrown off his HM Plant Honda Fireblade while leading with only a little over four laps remaining.

Rutter hit back instantly in Ireland, to win next time out, collecting his second victory of the season, but still faces a massive task to reel in the confident Reynolds. The Honda rider knows that nothing short of a winning double at Thruxton will suffice.

Leading points positions: J Reynolds 207, M Rutter 174, Y Kagayama 152, S Smart 130, S Emmett 105, D Thomas 84, G Richards 78, R Kiyonari 76, T Hill 54, G Mason 49.

MotoGP, 2004

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