With his Valencia disappointment now behind him, Ben Spies is 'feeling good' and focussed on clawing back the 40-point deficit to World Superbike Championship leader Noriyuki Haga during his debut at the legendary Assen circuit on Sunday.

Spies and Haga are the only riders to have tasted victory in the first six races of the season, sharing three wins apiece, but Spies has also suffered two non-scores - the most recent of which came after a rare mistake whilst trying to close down Haga during race one at Valencia.

Nevertheless, with a solid runner-up finish behind the Ducati rider in race two followed by an impressive test session at Monza, Spies heads to Assen optimistic of continuing his front-running form.

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"I'm feeling good and looking forward to getting back in the swing of things," said Yamaha's star rookie. "I left Valencia not too happy but feel better after we had a good test at Monza. I think we found a little something there which is good.

"Assen looks good, I've played it a bit on Playstation last week so I got some good seat time in! I've always wanted to ride here, the changes aren't probably as rider-friendly as they used to be because everyone seemed to like the old circuit more but for me it's a little bit easier to learn.

"It's got a couple of tricky spots and seems like a nice flowing track. We've just got to get up to speed."

Assen will not only be a new circuit for Spies, but also his crew chief Tom Houseworth - who came with him from AMA Superbike - and his new 'big bang' inspired R1.

"Assen is a new track for me and Ben and the bike is completely different this year with the crossplane crankshaft, fly by wire throttle and, new to myself and Ben, variable intakes," stated Houseworth. "We will approach the first session with a base setting that should allow Ben to learn the track quickly and allow us to collect useful set up data for the later sessions.

"The chassis is quite good, with bike one we will use a base setting form the Monza test to get started. Bike two will have a slightly different setting we came up with from looking at previous suspension data and Bens tendencies at this type of track.

"The data and rider feeling will tell us which way to go after the first session; hopefully we have done our homework and are close with one of the bikes! Going to a new track presents some unique challenges for us.

"We must learn the track quickly, evaluate the bike set up and get the set up close as quickly as possible. This is important as we need to start looking at race tyres and that can be difficult if you're in and out of the pit box chasing set up. The quicker we start evaluating race rubber the better chance we have in the race."

"Once race setup and race tyres are chosen then we fine tune the mapping and the traction control as needed, watching the track and air temp closely. Everything has to come together as one to have a good race and be near the front," he concluded.

Spies was offered the chance to ride for Rizla Suzuki in the MotoGP event at Assen last season, after Loris Capirossi was forced to abort his return from injury, but decided against it having missed the opening day of practice.

Team-mate Tom Sykes will also be making his debut at Assen, and aiming to make amends for his Valencia disappointment - when, like Max Biaggi, he was 'caught out' in the very first part of Superpole, leaving him with little chance on race day.

"There's no question, I'm really looking forward to Assen, it's a circuit I've always wanted to race at," said the Briton. "Unfortunately it's not the old circuit I grew up watching but at the end of the day it's still Assen! I'm especially looking forward to it as I feel the new R1 will work really well there. After a successful test in Monza hopefully we are edging closer to the podium and ultimately a win."

"We had good test in Monza recently so we are ready for Assen now," added team manager Massimo Meregalli. "We're feeling very positive, I think we can get really good results at the circuit which would be great as it is the home race for Yamaha Motor Europe. I think the circuit will be very good for the new R1, we have the potential to do very well."