Leon Haslam says due to the circuit characteristics at Assen and competitive front-runners the Dutch round will produce a closely-matched World Superbike pack compared to recent races.

While the battle for the podium spots has remained hotly-contested, Alvaro Bautista has continued to escape away at the front on the Aruba.it Racing Ducati to maintain his perfect start to the 2019 campaign with nine wins out of nine.

Haslam, a serial winner at Assen during his British Superbike career, is confident of being competitive at the Dutch circuit and believes the track’s layout can help other riders close the gap to the front-runners.

“At Assen I have taken podiums on pretty much every bike I have ridden,” Haslam said. “I have had some good battles with Johnny around there too. In BSB I think I have won five of the last six races there.

“I do like Assen and we will hopefully be much closer. There are fewer straights at Assen. I think some other bikes should work well there too so we could see six or seven riders battling.

“If I have the feeling with the bike set-up that I had on the final day at Motorland then hopefully I will be in that battle.”

After a tricky opening race at Aragon, Haslam carved up the order to take fourth place in race two – his best result since his podium finish in race two at Phillip Island – to close up to five points behind Michael van der Mark who sits above him in fourth place in the riders’ standings.