Fonsi Nieto did his hopes of retaining a place in the Suzuki team next year no harm at all as he concluded the 2008 World Superbike season by snatching sixth position overall in the standings.
The former Kawasaki racer made a superb start to his career with the Suzuki team this year when he won at the season opening Qatar round before following that up with more strong results.
However, while consistency has marked the Spaniard out this year – he failed to score just twice -, the rise of younger team-mate Max Neukirchner, a frustrating problem with Superpole and a rather lacklustre mid-season has put his seat in doubt for 2009.
Nonetheless, Nieto went a long way to proving his worth during the final two rounds of the year, finishing second at Magny-Cours before scoring a pair of fifth places in the Portugal season finale.
Those results were particularly significant in that they came after a spirited fight back from 16th on the grid in both races, while it also means he leapfrogs Max Biaggi for sixth in the final standings.
Indeed, Nieto has stated that he wants to remain with Suzuki next season, where he would look to partner Max Neukirchner and Yukio Kagayama again.
“I would like to thank Francis and Patricia Batta and the whole team for all their support and hard work in this amazing year,” he said. “I would like to be involved with them again next year and continue this great experience.”
Speaking about the weekend itself, Nieto was frustrated to have his high hopes dashed by the rain in Superpole, particularly as he was lapping on Troy Bayliss's pace in both races.
“In this championship, it is so hard to get a good result if you have to start anywhere lower than the second row of the grid. So, I am one person who is happy that there will be no Superpole next year!
“I think that to get two fifths from 16th on the grid is not so bad and when you consider that I was six seconds behind Bayliss on lap two of race and ended the race six seconds behind at the end, it means I was lapping at the same pace as Bayliss.
“We only made some small clicks to the bike from race one to race two and used the same tyre. At the start it was better, but at the end it was worse. I have really enjoyed this track and it is such a good design and very challenging. I wish that I had managed better in Superpole because I am sure that I could've finished on the podium at least one time.”