Max Neukirchner took an important step on his lengthy road to recovery as he made his debut in Ten Kate Honda colours during post-season testing at Portimao.
The German rider has not raced since breaking his leg in an accident at Monza in May, although it is a more recent accident during testing that forced him to miss the second-half of the 2009 World Superbike season.
Nonetheless, having severed ties with Suzuki Alstare, Neukirchner was back on a bike in Portugal as he jumped aboard the Honda CBR1000RR to sample the machine he will be riding in 2010.
Having suffered back injuries in his accident at Imola, Neukirchner admits he was taking it steady over the two days as he worked on getting a feel for riding again.
“I did 70 laps on both days of the test, including runs of 16 laps so I'm quite tired after being off a bike for six months. I've been training hard at home, but riding a bike is quite different and I know I've got a lot more work to do!
“However, I am really happy with the way this test has gone and on the second day I could feel that the pace was definitely coming, lap by lap. I got a really good feeling with the bike and the team. Of course, there is a long way to go before I can really understand how the bike works but it is a very good start.”
Neukirchner set the tenth best lap of the test with a time of 1min 43.549secs.