Suzuki press release:
With Team Suzuki Alstare Brux rider Max Neukirchner out of action for a while, there will be a familiar face in the Kyalami garage this coming weekend. Former team member Fonsi Nieto will be taking Max’s place in South Africa, joining up once again with Yukio Kagayama.
Fonsi raced for the team last year and so knows the crew very well, but he has no experience of the GSX-R1000 K9 and will be starting the first day of practice completely afresh.
The last time World Superbikes raced at the undulating and challenging 4.263 kilometre circuit was back in 2002, when both races were won by Aussie Troy Bayliss. Since then, the track has stayed virtually the same apart from minor revisions to the final chicane. These revisions were not in place when some of the top teams tested last December, so the race will be almost new territory for all concerned.
When we tested in Kyalami in December, it was only the second time on the new K9 bike, so we were having to do a lot and learn as much as possible. The track is very bumpy and so it is very important to get a good bike set-up. Of course, it is important to have a good set-up at all tracks, but bumpy tracks pose more problems. Also, the track is at
high altitude, so the engine always feels down on power compared to the tracks we normally race at. This weekend will be a big challenge for the whole team, but everybody is working well and I hope we get
some luck and good results.
Firstly, I want to wish Max all the best for a quick recovery. His crash at Monza was not his fault and he is lucky that the injuries are not worse than the are. I am very grateful to Francis Batta for giving me this opportunity to ride for the team again and I will do my best to repay his faith in me. Although I know the team, I do not know the bike because it is a completely new and different bike to last year’s model. So, I will have to learn the bike and learn the track at the same time and that is not so easy, but I will do my best for sure.