13 June 2009
Suzuki - WSBK Mid-term report.
Suzuki rider standings after 7 rounds, 14 races
Yukio Kagayama, Suzuki Alstare Brux - 12th
Max Neukirchner, Suzuki Alstare Brux - 13th
Karl Muggeridge, Celani Race Suzuki - 24th
Fonsi Nieto, Suzuki Alstare Brux - 25th
Roland Resch, TKR Switzerland Suzuki - N/C
When Max Neukirchner and Yukio Kagayama crossed the line second and third during the opening round of the season at Phillip Island, Suzuki looked to be on course for a good 2009...
Fast forward four months and the team have admitted they are already looking towards 2010 as a way of reviving their fortunes following a series of woes out of their control.
Most crucially, the loss of Neukirchner to injury has dealt a devastating blow to the team, particularly as they were counting on him as their number one rider to help develop the new GSX-R1000. Up to the accident at Monza, the German had been in the hunt on the cusp of the Ducati-Yamaha lockout, even if he had alluded to the fact the new bike was proving difficult to set-up at various circuits.
Instead, the manufacturer's focus has switched to Kagayama, although hopes could now rest on how quickly he recovers from a broken ankle.
Kagayama's season has been fraught with inconsistencies, his podium in Australia and fourth at Monza being the highlights of what has otherwise been a rather average first half to the season, regardless of having a question mark over fitness to worry about now.
In the meantime, Fonsi Nieto will be Suzuki's sole 'healthy' rider for the moment after the Spaniard made a surprise return to the team following his demise at the end of the 2008 season. So far, it has taken Nieto a while to settle on the new bike and while he has scored points in the races he has competed in, having won on his maiden outing with the manufacturer last season, it is proving to be a slower return to form than expected for him.
Having had no other privateer involvement in 2008, Suzuki have two 'back-up' teams this season, although Celani Race and TKR Switzerland haven't established themselves in the same way that Ducati and Honda's satellite outfits have done.
After an anonymous season with DFX Corse, Karl Muggeridge has severed his lengthy ties with Honda and appears to be faring fairly well on the Suzuki GSX-R1000, a bike that had barely turned a wheel before the start of the season. A strong showing at Assen was coupled with an accident that has since lumbered the Australian with two broken vertebrae. It won't be an easy injury to shrug off, but Muggeridge is determined to show he is still capable of scoring points.
TKR Switzerland, meanwhile, have brought arguably the most distinctive bike to the series, although it certainly isn't the fastest. Save for almost scoring an attrition driven point at Assen, rider Roland Resch has been a consistent – but colourful – tail-ender in each event he has participated in.
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