As reported in this week’s issue of Cycle News, the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team has signed German Max Neukirchner to ride one of the team’s two Honda CBR1000RRs in next year’s World Superbike Championship.The 26-year-old German had a miserable go of it this year with injuries keeping out of action for most of the season. Neukirchner crashed on the opening lap in Monza and suffered serious leg injuries, then was hurt again in a testing crash at Imola.Neukirchner does, however, have two World Superbike victories with both those taking place on the Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 in 2008 – a season in which he finished fifth in the championship. Next year will be Neukirchner’s sixth season in the World Superbike Championship when he joins Brit Jonathan Rea on the two-man team.According to a team release, doctors have given Neukirchner a clean bill of health “and have stated that this season’s injuries represent no barrier to his immediate return to racing. It is anticipated, therefore, that he will take part in the end-of-season World Superbike test at Portimao in Portugal on October 27-28.””I have to say that my feeling is really good right now,” Neukirchner said in a team release issued to day. “The Ten Kate team is so big and experienced and the CBR1000RR is clearly such a strong package. Jonathan [Rea] has proved that with his victories this year and I’m really looking forward to being his team-mate as we are good friends. It feels really great to be back on a Honda; I am feeling fit and I’m determined to put a good season together next year.”Team owner Ronald ten Kate said he was surprised to find that the Alstare Suzuki team wasn’t keeping the German.”As much as anyone else, we were caught by surprise when we found out about Max’s availability,” said ten Kate. “We immediately saw a ‘dream team’ line-up with Jonathan Rea, which is probably the youngest pairing ever in a World Superbike Championship team, with both riders already having wins under their belts. We understand that Max may need some time to find his full race-craft again but we are quite sure that his talent, motivation and determination will get him quickly back up to speed.”
Neukirchner To Honda
Paul Carruthers | Editor
Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.