Bikes: Max Neukirchner 2nd


Team Suzuki Press Office - January 25.

Team Suzuki Alstare's Max Neukirchner blasted the new 2009-model Suzuki GSX-R1000K9 to the second fastest time under heavy weather conditions at the first official World Superbike test at Portimao in Portugal.

Neukirchner lapped the 4.5 kilometre Autodromo Internacional Algarve circuit - which also tested the new Superpole procedure where three separate sessions are used to determine the grid positions - just a tenth-of-a-second behind fastest rider Shane Byrne (Ducati).

Yukio Kagayama kept the Suzuki Alstare flag flying by posting the seventh quickest lap of the new procedure to end up on what would have been the second row of the grid.

Max Neukirchner (best lap - 1:43.965 in 'Superpole', 1:43.674 overall in tests):

"Over the three days we've tried a lot of different things to do with chassis, traction control, wheelie control and engine and have learnt a lot about the new bike. For me, like all of us, the biggest problem has been the rain and the fact that we have not been able to do as many laps in the dry as we would have liked, but our understanding of the bike is a lot better. The lap times are very close, so this year's championship is going to be really hard and it's going to be important to be consistent. I think the 2009 bike handles better and I have a better feeling for it in the corners, but it's not really easier to ride yet because we are going much faster! Overall I am happy because our knowledge is improving and I think we are in pretty good shape for the year ahead."

Yukio Kagayama (best lap - 1:44.586 in 'Superpole', 1:44.425 overall in tests):

"Generally I feel that the conditions have been difficult and I wanted more dry track time. The conditions changed many times and each time we made a change to the bike, the conditions would alter and we would have to change the bike again! The track's grip level in the wet was not so bad, but this year I can push a bit harder in the wet because the 2009 bike is less hard work in the rain. This bike has good potential and all we need is more time to understand it better and then we will improve a lot. I am not happy about my lap times and the weather, but I am happy because of all the good work we've done and the progress we are making."

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