As the 2005 World Superbike Championship season approaches its closing stages, there can be no better point to resume on-track hostilities than the classically sculpted Circuit van Drenthe at Assen; the 'Cathedral' of motorcycle racing.
An outstanding motorcycle venue for every possible reason, Assen has been a regular and popular fixture in the World Superbike calendar since 1992, proving to be the turning point for many a championship season.
Modified slightly since last year, Assen is still much greater than the sum of its many parts - no mean achievement on a circuit with over 20 corners along its 6km length - and this year's event will hold special status since it is the last before controversial shortening will see the north loop lost.
The start of the 2005 championship season was dominated by 1996 champion Troy Corser
on the awesome new Alstare Corona Extra Suzuki and - even when rivals began to break his win dominance - the cunning Australian continued to pile on the points.
Indeed, consistent front running performances have taken him to an almost unassailable 344-point championship score, fully 110-more than his nearest rival. He has appeared on every single rostrum of the year, with an enviable record of eight wins, four seconds and four thirds to his credit.
But strangely for such a perennial challenger for honours, he has not won a race at Assen in a ten-year WSBK career - something he will be more than keen to rectify this coming weekend.
One man the Dutch fans will want in the way of such a win is former MotoGP and World Supersport star Jurgen van den Goorbergh, who will make his WSBK debut in his home event on a Rizla Suzuki provided by reigning British Superbike Champions Crescent Racing. 'VDG' has already tested the machine and is eager to revive his career with a strong showing this weekend.
However, while van den Goorbergh may be the local star rider, Ten Kate Honda is the local star team - with their rider Chris Vermeulen currently second in the championship.
The pre-eminent Honda rider in Superbike at present, Vermeulen will be out for nothing less than win number two and three of his 2005 season, the first having been taken at another fast, flat and flowing circuit - Monza. As the first race winner at Assen last year, Vermeulen knows exactly what it takes to triumph at this classic circuit.