A change of settings at the eleventh hour helped Max Neukirchner climb the timesheets towards the end of the World Superbike three day test in Portugal.
Neukirchner, who hasn't raced since May, returned to the track with the intention of getting better acquainted with the Ten Kate Honda, but a struggle to find the right settings saw him comfortably outside the top ten on the opening day.
He experienced similar issues on the final day having reverted to the set-up Jonathan Rea was using to get the sister bike to the top of the timesheets. However, when all it did was cause the German to crash, it would require further changes at the very end of the test.
Luckily the alterations would transform the bike and move Neukirchner into the top ten for the first time, the former Suzuki rider leaving Portugal feeling positive that he has made a breakthrough with the CBR1000RR.
“The first day here I really didn't have a good feeling, and then Saturday it was wet. Although it was good to ride the bike in those conditions, it didn't allow us to improve the feeling. Sunday we tried a setting similar to Johnny's but our riding styles are quite different and I ended up having a small crash.
“Then we made a change to take the bike back towards where we were on the last day at the Valencia test – we made the rear a little softer and the bike was completely different. The last eight laps I was really enjoying myself and I think we have a good base to work from now and we can make the bike better suited to my style of riding.
“Now I can look forward to Australia much more, because I love riding at Phillip Island – it's very fast and my kind of track!”
Max Neukirchner's Portimao test card
1min 45.144s – 15th
1min 44.453s – 14th
(wet) 1min 57.569s – 9th
Saturday PM: (wet)
1min 54.829s – 13th
1min 44.642s – 12th
1min 43.571s – 8th
1min 43.471s – 9th