Team Suzuki Alstare Brux rider Max Neukirchner took a podium in the first race at the Valencia World Superbike Championship round today in Spain, finishing third behind Ducati team-mates Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio.
He also led the first four laps of race two, but then began to suffer grip problems. He kept pushing as hard as he could but ended seventh. His team mate Yukio Kagayama finished sixth in race one and was moving up the field in race two from eighth on lap one when he hit a false neutral and was forced into the gravel trap at turn two. He looked to have saved it, but then his bike tipped over at low speed. By the time he got the bike upright and out of the gravel the rest of the field had long gone. He kept going for another 14 laps but, as his back was hurting and there was no prospect of any points, he decided to pull in.
Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) took advantage of his bike's ability around the twisty Valencia circuit and stormed to victory in both races. His team mate Michel Fabrizio took second in race one. American Ben Spies (Yamaha) took runner-up spot in race two, with Fabrizio third.Max Neukirchner - Race 1: 3rd, Race 2: 7th:
"I think that generally this has been a hard weekend for us and the closeness of the lap times in qualifying didn't make it any easier. We tried many things to make the bike faster and although we improved it, I don't think it was enough. Race one was very good and I was happy to get a podium. We used the same bike in race two, with the same type of tyre as Haga and most of the other riders but the bike just didn't work as well as it had done in race one. I managed to lead for the first four laps, but then the grip level went down. Maybe part of the problem was that the track temperature was higher and that affected the characteristics of the bike, but whatever the problem is we have to find a way of adjusting the bike to compensate for it."
Yukio Kagayama - Race 1: 6th, Race 2: DNF:
"The feeling of my bike in race one was not so good. I think this was because oil or other liquid from a rider in front of me had got onto my front brake discs and so the brake performance was reduced. So to get sixth is not so bad. We changed to a harder rear tyre in race two and the bike had a better feel and after five or so laps I was beginning to catch the front runners. Going into turn two, I got a false neutral and so the bike went straight on and into the gravel. The gravel was so deep that when the bike nearly came to a stop I could not prevent it from falling over. I picked the bike up and restarted but everybody had gone! I was last by a long way, but I decided to carry on riding in case I could collect any points. My back was beginning to hurt because of Friday's crash and when I realised I could not get anywhere near the points, so I thought it would be better to pull in instead of risking any further injury."
World Superbike Results:Race 1: 1 Haga (J-Ducati), 2 Fabrizio (I-Ducati), 3 Max Neukirchner (D-Suzuki Alstare Brux), 4 Laconi (F-Ducati), 5 Haslam (GB-Honda), 6 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare Brux).
Race 2: Haga, 2 Spies (USA-Yamaha), 3 Fabrizio, 4 Laconi, 5 Haslam, 6 Checa (E-Honda), 7 Max Neukirchner (D-Suzuki Alstare Brux), Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare Brux) DNF.
Championship Points: 1 Haga 135, 2 Spies 95, 3 Max Neukirchner (D-Suzuki Alstare Brux) 65, 4 Fabrizio 60, 5 Haslam 58, 6 Laconi 56, 9 Yukio Kagayama (J-Suzuki Alstare Brux).
FIM SUPERSTOCK 100:
Team Suzuki Alstare Brux rider Claudio Corti started his debut with the team in the best possible way by winning the first round of this year's Superstock 1000 FIM Cup in Valencia.
The young Italian made a superb start and was never headed on his way to an emphatic victory, nearly five seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Xavi Simeon (Ducati).
Claudio Corti - 1st:
"This was the perfect start to my career with this great team. I made a good start and took the lead and I must say that I was a little surprised that nobody was very close to me in the first few laps. I thought other riders would catch me, but as the race went on I became more comfortable with my lead and so the race was not such a hard one for me. After the problems we had in practice and qualifying, everything went like a dream in the race today and for that I must thank my team for doing such a great job. I hope more races this season could be like this one, but whatever happens from now on, I will always remember my first victory with the team."
Superstock 1000 Results: 1 Claudio Corti (I-Suzuki Alstare Brux), 2 Simeon (B-Ducati), 3 Berger (F-Honda), 4 Fores (E-Kawasaki), 5 Burrell (GB-Honda), 6 Beretta (I-Ducati).
Championship Points: 1 Claudio Corti (I-Suzuki Alstare Brux) 25, 2 Simeon 20, 3 Berger 16, 4 Fores 13, 5 Burrell 11, 6 Beretta 10.