Max Neukirchner suffered appalling fortune at Valencia on Sunday, when the Alstare Suzuki rider was taken down within sight of his first World Superbike victory.

As if that wasn't enough, Max suffered a broken collarbone in the incident - forcing his withdraw from race two, which he should have started from the front courtesy of his debut pole position.

The young German had been on fire all weekend at Valencia and was tipped to collect a second ever WSBK podium - at the very least - during Sunday's pair of races.

Neukirchner's only previous WSBK podium came in only his second event, at Phillip Island in 2005, after which he had been robbed of any momentum by a huge accident - and hand fracture - next time out... at Valencia.

Three years on and Max looked set to put all that behind him as he confidently pulled clear of the opposition during race one at the Spanish circuit - and held a four second advantaged by the time home hero Carlos Checa reached the runner-up position, on lap 14 of 23.

But the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda rider, spurred on by the Spanish fans, refused to give up on his own debut WSBK victory - and had closed to within one second of Neukirchner as the last lap began.

Checa, a former 500cc race winner, was soon locked onto Neukirchner's rear wheel, but the German held firm and Checa's only hope of victory was a 'do-or-die' going into the final turn...

Carlos duly dived up the inside on the entry to the awkward off-camber left hander, and put the nose of his Fireblade narrowly ahead, but asked too much of his front tyre, which promptly folded - bringing both riders down.

The pair tumbled to a halt in the nearby gravel, whereupon Checa sprung to his feet and salvaged fifth position, but Neukirchner - who was momentarily trapped under his machine - never reached the flag.

A devastated Max was later diagnosed with a broken left collarbone and now faces a race against time to be fit for Assen on April 27.

"I am more then disappointed," stated Neukirchner. "I could almost see the chequered flag when suddenly I was hit by Checa. He tried to dive up the inside of me in the last corner, but I don't think there was enough room for him to do what he did and we both crashed.

"I broke my collarbone but, to make matters worse, he was able to get back on his bike and score some points," sighed Max. "My weekend had gone perfectly up to that moment. I had been consistently fast and I had felt very comfortable on the bike. There was no problem for me leading the race, the only problem all weekend was what happened in the last corner."

Checa suffered his own dose of misfortune in race two, losing the lead due to an electrical problem, although he still salvaged third position.


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