As the WSBK returns to the Assen this weekend after a month's break, only eight points separate the top four runners. Will Regis Laconi manage to hold on to his slim title lead?

As the WSBK returns to the Assen this weekend after a month's break, only eight points separate the top four runners. Will Regis Laconi manage to hold on to his slim title lead?

While the tight championship this year has been attributed to the similarly specced motorcycles and tyre regulations, of the field, only Noriyuki Haga and Pierfrancesco Chili have won at the Assen circuit before.

However, Laconi, Haga, Chili, James Toseland, Garry McCoy and rookie Chris Vermeulen have all claimed victories this season and should take the next fight right to the chequered flag.

Other than the season's winners, many riders have already made trips to the podium, including Steve Martin, who has had a succession of third place finishes but no wins yet.

Leon Haslam, Haga's young team-mate, has also finished third this year and will be eager to get more points under his belt in the season's remaining three races.

The Foggy Petronas pairing of Troy Corser and Chris Walker, with their unique 900 cm3 three-cylinder FP-1s, have also already taken a second and third place in earlier races, and complete the top ten championship standings.

Changes have been made to the FP-1 since the last race at Brands Hatch with cam train revisions allowing the engine to rev an extra 1 000 r/min, produce more peak power and provide more gearing options.

The riders have lauded the latest developments after recent testing at Magny-Cours, and after completing more than 50 laps each, predicted this machine should be more forceful at the faster circuits like Assen.

"We had two good days and tested quite a few things including the latest revisions to the engine and clutch settings," said Corser. "The slipper clutch feels much more consistent but there is still a little room for improvement which we can work on at Assen.”