The now infamous first race, last lap clash with Carlos Checa that forced Neukirchner to miss the second race there with a collarbone injury has been forced from his mind and the German was a model of consistency today.

His Suzuki is a little differnt to the sister bikes of Yukio Kagayama and Fonsi Nieto, running different exhausts and a few other componenets, but none of this seems to have a detrimental affect on Neukirchner's speed.

He made a small error starting his Superpole lap, but to be beaten by the likes of Corser by less than a tenth of a second is not a huge slap in the face and the tall 25-year-old, cheered on by many German fans making the short trip over to Holland looks a podium contender on the colourful Alstare bike.

"My Superpole lap was good, except for the first corner," admitted Max. "I braked a bit too late there, pushed the front and lost some time. That knocked me off the front row.

"However, I am happy with bike setup. I'm going to make some minor changes in tomorrow's warm-up to improve things maybe a little more, but overall I am confident of a good showing."

Yukio Kagayama has also been right on form at the Dutch circuit. The Japanese, very dear to many British fans after his exploits in the UK in 2003/4 was in the top four in most of the weekend's sessions, so was a little disappointed with a seventh place starting position.

"I made a couple of small mistakes on my lap," revealed 'Yuki'. "These cost me time but over the weekend the setup of the bike has been very good. This means I can push from the start and get up front."

Unlike a few of his rivals though, Kagayama is a fan of the new Assen layout. Most regard the chopping of the early part of the lap a sacrilege! But Kagayama enjoys the circuit and is hoping it doesn't rain anymore!

Qatar race winner Fonsi Nieto is another who has been in the top bunch all weekend, the Spaniard who is married to a hugely famous Spanish celebrity and therefore spends a lot of time in Spain in the limelight must regard racing as something of a relaxing environment.

"I'm not sure why my lap was so slow," said Nieto. "The lap felt OK, but the time just was not there. I have been showing good pace round here this weekend and am disappointed at missing the second row.

"Bike setup I am not totally happy with but a good start is vital here. I know I am faster than a few guys in front of me.