Team Alstare Suzuki riders Max Neukirchner, Fonsi Nieto and Yukio Kagayama had a day of mixed fortunes at yesterday's ninth-round World Superbike Championship at Brno in the Czech Republic.
Although they had high hopes for podiums, various problems dashed the team's hopes and they left the Czech Republic without any silverware to show for all the efforts.
Neukirchner finished the day the top Suzuki rider with a seventh in race one and a fifth in race two. Kagayama, still not at 100% fit because of his left hand, bagged a pair of ninth places and Nieto took14th in race one - after a fall - and eighth in race two.
Both today's races, which took the all-time tally of WSBK races to 500, were won by runaway series leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati). Ducati dominated the podiums with only Troy Corser (Yamaha) finishing second in the first race.
Max Neukirchner - Race 1: 7th, Race 2: 5th:
"We had a lot of problems in the first race and it wasn't possible for me to get on the gas quickly enough in and exiting the turns. So for race two, we changed the rear spring and the bike felt much better and more consistent. Apart from that, the bike and tyres were the same for both races and I suppose the other real problem was that the Ducatis were so strong here. They were fast and could all get on the gas as early as they wanted and were able to out accelerate all of us four cylinder riders. I love this circuit and it is like a second home track for me because a lot of my fans come here. I am happy to be the best Suzuki rider today, but I'm disappointed not to be on the podium."
Yukio Kagayama - Race 1: 9th, Race 2: 9th:
"We made some changes to the suspension settings for race two and, although the bike felt better, the result was the same! Today I had some problems braking hard and then getting past other riders. I could catch them up but I couldn't get on the gas as quick as they could. I was also losing out on acceleration to them because my rear was spinning. My left hand is not up to full strength yet so I couldn't always be as aggressive as I wanted to be. But overall, I am a little disappointed with the results today."
Fonsi Nieto - Race 1: 14th, Race 2: 8th:
"This was a bad weekend and I am not happy at all. Normally, our practice, qualifying and Superpole are bad and the races are good, but today it was the other way round! In race one, the front tyre just wasn't working and then I had a small crash when Checa closed the door on me and I ran onto the dirt, lost control of the bike and crashed. I got back on and managed to finish the race in 14th place. We used the same bike and tyres for race two but, after a few laps, I felt a vibration on the bike and then couldn't push hard. The tyre was moving on the rim and although I could've pulled out of the race, I decided to keep going as best I could."
Race 1: 1 Bayliss (Aus-Ducati), 2 Corser (Aus-Yamaha), 3 Fabrizio (I-Ducati), 4 Biaggi (I-Ducati), 5 Kiyonari (J-Honda), 6 Haga (J-Yamaha), 7 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki), 8 Checa (E-Honda), 9 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare), 10 Sofuoglu (Tur-Honda), 14 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare).
Race 2: 1 Bayliss, 2 Fabrizio, 3 Biaggi, 4 Corser, 5 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki), 6 Kiyonari, 7 Haga, 8 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare), 9 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare), 10 Sofuoglu.
Championship Points: 1 Bayliss 309, 2 Max Neukirchner (D-Alstare Suzuki) 230, 3 Corser 218, 4 Checa 215, 5 Haga 210, 6 Fonsi Nieto (E-Suzuki Alstare) 161, 7 Xaus 148, 8 Fabrizio 147, 9 Biaggi 146, 10 Kiyonari 115, 11 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare) 96.
Team Alstare Suzuki rider Xavi Simeon left Brno circuit disappointed to have finished fifth in today's Superstock 1000 race. The bike's set-up, which worked well for 2-3 laps in practice and qualifying, did not perform as well over the 12-lap race and he was left hanging on to the leaders as best he could.
Frenchman Maxime Berger (Honda) won the race with Brendan Roberts (Ducati) second and Alessandro Polita (Ducati) third. Roberts' victory sees him take the championship lead away from the Alstare Suzuki rider, but only by one point.
Xavi Simeon - 5th:
"Today was difficult because the bike's set-up was not so good for the whole race. It had worked well enough for two to three laps in practice and qualifying, but today was the first time we had to do 12 laps in a row. I found it hard to keep the same lap times after three or four laps, but tried to keep in touch with the leaders as best I could. On the penultimate lap, I nearly crashed when I lost the front end, but somehow I kept control and saved it - but I was lucky! I know that the four riders in front of me today all tested here recently and that gave them an advantage for sure. This is the second race in a row that I have finished fifth. The other one was when I had a broken collarbone, but this time there was no such problem so I am not happy. I know that I should be on the podium and that I am second in the championship by only one point, but even that's too much!"
Superstock 1000 Results: 1 Berger (F-Honda), 2 Roberts (Aus-Ducati), 3 Polita (I-Ducati), 4 Antonelli (I-Honda), 5 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki), 6 Pirro (I-Yamaha).
Championship Points: 1 Roberts 96, 2 Xavi Simeon (B-Alstare Suzuki) 95, 3 Berger 84, 4 Polita 83, 5 Pirro 73, 6 Giugliano 55.
Barry Veneman managed to a great fifth place on the Automotodrome Brno track in today's World Supersport race. This result brought him into the top 10 of the championship.
Also Didier Van Keymeulen ended the race weekend in the Czech Republic with World Championship points, crossing the finish line 14th.
Marc Hoegee - Team owner, RES Software Hoegee Suzuki:
"We really had a great weekend and I am very happy with the results. Our point of departure on the grid was promising and I think we have done a very good job with the whole team. We proved that we belong at the front of the field and what Barry showed today is fantastic! Didier also did a good job: He took some points back home and that is good for the team. The performance this weekend was just good and we will go on with this during the next races."
"This is terrific! I started the race with lots of confidence because I qualified at the front. I also made a plan for the race: I didn't want to give all I had immediately from the start, just to follow the front guys. But this group was actually riding a little bit to slow. When Rea fell back for a moment, we had to make more pace, but I was also not able to do this on my own. I had to let Brookes pass by and at the end I was making a little mistake by myself so Parkes came over. Despite this I felt very strong during the whole race and I am very satisfied with the result."
Didier Van Keymeulen:
"I can look back on a good weekend. I was constantly riding with the top 15, which is my goal at this moment and that is good. I didn't really peak this weekend but I was improving myself. During the race I managed a good start but after three laps I had some problems to keep the pace. I've made progress over the last few weeks but I still wanted to improve myself so I would be able to stay with the front group. At the end I lost a little bit of my rhythm and gave some places away, but it's getting better every race and 14th place is again a step into the right direction."