Neukirchner puts Suzuki top in testing

Max Neukirchner moved to the top of the timesheets as the second wave of pre-season testing at Phillip Island got underway with five of the seven manufacturers in attendance.

After Aprilia and Kawasaki concluded their programme earlier in the week, Suzuki, Ducati, Honda, Yamaha and BMW were present at the Australian circuit.

With the top eight covered by just a second, it was Suzuki that made the biggest impression, with Neukirchner going quickest having already matched Max Biaggi's best from three days earlier, while team-mate Yukio Kagayama was third best, two tenths behind.

Although much of their pace could be attributed to having tested the 2009-specification GSX-R1000 at Phillip Island before Christmas, the continued top five presence of Neukirchner during testing is quickly marking him out to be a title contender.

Splitting the Alstare pair was Michel Fabrizio on the Ducati Xerox, the Italian getting to within two tenths of the German despite experiencing a fall.

In fact, Fabrizio was one of several riders to take a tumble during the day, with team-mate Noriyuki Haga, Troy Corser and Carlos Checa also falling. Checa found himself worse off though, the Spaniard banging his head and being taken to hospital after claiming to remember nothing of the accident. Doctors will asses whether he will continue to test this weekend.

His team-mate Jonathan Rea led Honda's charge in fourth position, ahead of Haga, Tom Sykes and Ben Spies, the latter two Yamaha riders taking the time to feel their way around an unusual circuit for the first time.

Checa was still classified eighth quickest, ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari in tenth, while BMW remain on the fringes of the top flight in ninth and eleventh, Corser ahead of Ruben Xaus.

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