Neukirchner breaks his duck


Neukirchner leads Haga, Kiyonari

Max Neukirchner came within 0.009 seconds of taking his first double World Superbike win May 11, having already broken his duck (as they say) by winning the first race over the always-dangerous Noriyuki Haga — by 0.07 seconds.

In the second race, Haga used his Yamaha Motor Italia R1 to pip the German’s Team Alstare Suzuki by that tiny 0.009 second margin. It doesn’t get a lot closer than that. In race one, the first four were covered by less than one second; in race 2, the first three by 0.051 seconds.

Xerox Ducati’s Troy Bayliss held onto his series lead over Ten Kate Hanspree Honda’s Carlos Checa with a third and a DNF (mechanical) vs Checa’s eighth and a DNF (crash), carrying a 194 to 116 point lead out of the weekend. Haga is hard on the Spaniard’s tail, third with 112, and Neukirchner in spitting distance only one point back of that.

The young German said, "I am so happy to win my first ever World Superbike race and proud and happy to be the first German rider to do so. It’s a great feeling … I used the same bike and set up for race two, but Haga was a bit quicker in the corners. I was behind him when I suddenly saw a big cloud of smoke coming from his bike. I thought his engine had blown up and waited for him to slow down or pull over, but he kept on going! After half a lap or so, there was no more smoke. I attacked him hard in the last couple of laps, but he just about managed to out-drag me to the line and take the win."

An impressive third in the second race was 2007 BSB champ Ryuchi Kiyonari on another of the Hanspree Ten Kate Hondas; Kiyonari is under heavy pressure to do well this season after his dominating British title in ’07; he’s currently eighth in the standings, tied with Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati rider Max ‘the bedwetter’ Biaggi, who collected a fifth and a crash for his Monza weekend.

The next event sees a hop across the Atlantic to a new event at Miller Motorsport Park in Tooelle Valley, Utah, June 1.


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