Max Neukirchner believes Alstare Suzuki paid the price for not testing at Vallelunga earlier in the season, although a pair of fourth places for the German still keeps him in with a faint title hope.

Having missed out on testing at the Italian circuit back in July, the team were further restricted by the wet weather that descended on the circuit during free practice. Nonetheless, all three riders improved sufficiently in the dry to reach Superpole, with the trio all going on to qualify inside the top ten.

However, while Fonsi Nieto and Yukio Kagayama struggled to make progress from their starting position, Neukirchner worked hard for his two fourth place finishes, although he was never anything more than on the fringes of the lead fight.

Nonetheless, the result means he is still capable of winning the championship, even if he has dropped to fourth in the standings, level on points with Noriyuki Haga and ten behind Troy Corser.

"We didn't test here before and I think that put us at a big disadvantage, so I think we did our best today and a pair of fourths is not bad. For this morning's warm-up we changed the bikes - one had a shorter swing-arm and the other had a longer swing-arm.

"In race one, I had a lot of spinning, but just kept going as hard as I could. We adjusted the rear shock for race two and the bike felt better, but not quite good enough, and we still had problems exiting the corners and in the chicane. Also, I had quite a lot of pain just above my left hip, as a result of my crash on Friday. All in all though, I am not disappointed today."


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