Team-mates and friends they might be, but intense rivals they almost certainly are.
That is the situation with series leaders Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson (Santander Salt Honda) and reigning champions Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark (Molson/Express Tyres Yamaha) as they head for Assen over the weekend of 20-22nd September, split by just thirty points at the top of the table.
With eight victories so far this year for Ellis, and six for Kershaw, the two crews have dominated the season, and will be on a track where Kershaw and Clark had no luck at all last year. However, they set a new lap record in the previous round at Cadwell Park, so expect them to take that form to Holland.
Behind them in the table, with a very slender one point advantage, sit Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde. The rapid starting Bryan has been at the sharp end all year on his GBR Honda, but breathing down his neck is a crew who are very much in the ascendency.
Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney have simply grown in stature with the Barnes Racing/Silicone Engineering outfit, and take all their world championship experience to a familiar track at Assen.
Expect also to see a wild-card appearance over the weekend by multiple world champions Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes, as a shakedown for their final world championship outing next month. They currently lead that series and are potentially on the brink of another FIM title.
Given the pace of this championship,and the fact that all teams are now 600cc powered, it will be interesting to see how they fare against the Molson Group series regulars.
Other crews to watch out for at the “Cathedral of Speed” are winners there last year, Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood. The JG Speedfit Quattro Plant Kawasaki boys are back on form, and hungry to display their double title-winning form. In sixth place, just fifteen points of fourth, they have every incentive, and with double points on offer for the final round at Brands Hatch, this series has a lot more surprises in store.
At the time of going to press, Ben and Tom Birchall appear to be giving this one a miss. However, there will be plenty of other world-class talent present, with Benny Streuer and Kevin Rousseau stretching the legs of their Kawasaki on home soil. They will be doing battle with fellow FIM series runners Sam and Adam Christie, John Holden and Lee Cain and the plethora of talent on show from our British Championship.
Eurosport will be on-hand to cover both races as they happen, with video highlights to follow on this website www.rkb-f1-sidecars.com