Despite being injured during last year's event, Max Neukirchner heads to the latest round of the World Superbike Championship at Assen chasing a similar result nonetheless.
Neukirchner claimed only his second career WSBK podium around the Dutch circuit last season, despite competing with a broken collarbone following his last lap collision with Carlos Checa at the preceding Valencia round.
Arriving in the Netherlands clutching a strong, if distant, third in the overall standings, Neukirchner is targeting an improvement in practice and qualification if he is to mount a consistent race challenge.
"Assen is not the same as it used to be and the first section now is very different to what it was before. It is not a bad track, but it's just not as fast and flowing as it used to be and so some of its appeal has gone. Last year, I took a third in the first race and a fifth in the second, so it was quite a good day for me - especially as I had broken my collarbone in Valencia in the previous round.
"This year's championship is more competitive then last year, so it's important to do well in practice and qualifying and then get a good grid position. I am hoping for a podium or two and can see no big reason why I cannot achieve this."
Suzuki Alstare Brux team-mate Yukio Kagayama is also focusing on qualifying due to the increasingly competitive nature of the WSBK field.
"Assen is not so bad, but it was better before they made the changes to the first part. I like fast tracks with fast corners and Assen used to be one of my favourite tracks. There are still some good, fast corners, but you now have to ride the track in a different way because of the first section.
“This year is very tough and it is difficult to qualify well, but it is important to be on the front two rows of the grid for the races, otherwise you have a lot of work to do to get good results."