Ten Kate Honda's struggling WSBK star Max Neukirchner gave his confidence a welcome boost by returning to the winner's rostrum in the IDM German Superbike championship round at Assen at the weekend.
Riding a Honda CBR1000RR prepared by Ten Kate Racing Products - the customer racing division of the WSBK team - the German won the first IDM race and followed it up with third in race two.
Neukirchner had qualified in third position on Saturday, two tenths of a second behind pole man and local rider, Barry Veneman. In the Assen opener, he passed Veneman within three laps and, after consistently fast lap times, had extended his lead to a comfortable margin at the flag.
Race two was initially delayed and then red flagged early as rain fell on the Dutch circuit. However, with the track drying quickly, the field was back out for ten dry laps with Neukirchner finishing in third place.
"The first race was brilliant and I felt so happy to be back on the podium - especially on the top step," said Max, a double WSBK race winner who hasn't finished higher than ninth in 2010.
"Qualifying on Saturday was quite difficult because the Dunlop qualifiers behaved a little differently to the Pirellis that I am more accustomed to. However, the front row was OK and we knew that our race pace was very strong.
"In race one I was able to pass Veneman quite early and just kept pushing throughout the race. In the end it was a comfortable victory. It felt fantastic to beat the other guys who have been racing with their teams and against each other all season.
"Race two was a little chaotic but third place and another podium was good for me. The weekend was a great personal motivation for my home race in Germany in two weeks, and we have another test at Assen before we go.
"I hope we can continue the good progress we made at Silverstone in the last SBK race and I'm sure t hat we can start at Nurburgring with a good feeling," he concluded.
Former Ten Kate Honda World Supersport champion and WSBK rider Karl Muggeridge
was fourth in both races.