Max Neukirchner has made a frank and honest admission that he still lacks experience after a disappointing end to the 2008 World Superbike season saw him finish fifth overall.
Neukirchner has been a revelation this season aboard the Alstare Suzuki, the German repaying the manufacturer's faith in him to claim two victories, as well as a further five podiums.
However, he still lamented a quiet end to the year, a factor he put down to his lack of experience in adverse weather conditions. It was a claim typified by his performance in Portugal where he struggled to make an impression during the wet sessions, thus leaving himself on the back foot in terms of set-up.
After crashing in the first race whilst running inside the top ten, Neukirchner nonetheless performed well in the second race to run third, even if he would eventually drop to fourth at the finish. Even so, he wasn't overly impressed with his performance.
"I think that most of this weekend is about my youth and lack of experience. Other riders, with more experience, can get a good set-up in less time than me and this is what I am learning all the time.
“I am not sure why I crashed in race one because the telemetry doesn't show me doing anything different or going any faster than the laps before. We changed the front fork rebound for race two and the bike felt much better, but I was still losing a lot of time in the last corner and that prevented me from catching and passing Fabrizio.”
Losing out to Carlos Checa in the standings in the final race, Neukirchner was 'angry' at how he faded in the final stages of the season, not least because he ran second overall for much of the time. Nonetheless, he has vowed to come on stronger in 2009.
"I am a little angry because I really thought that I could finish second or third in the championship halfway though the season. But the last four or five races have had mixed weather conditions and my lack of experience has meant that I didn't have the perfect bike set-up for race day.
“My mechanics and I are a young team and we are learning all the time. They have all worked hard and I think our season has been a pretty good one, all in all."