Germany’s Max Neukichner was once the next big thing in the WSBK but injury and circumstance seemed to work against him. He made his WSBK debut in 2005, scoring a podium with the Klaffi Honda team but funding issues saw this ride disappear for 2006.
A mixed 2006 season and a difficult 2007 season on old equipment saw him land an Alstare Suzuki ride for 2008. In 2008 he broke through for his first WSBK win and soon after he was injured in a first corner crash that was not his fault. This injury would see an end to his Alstare career.
He would then move onto the HANNspree Ten Kate Honda but it was an unhappy relationship. For 2011, though he made the jump to Moto2, with the midfield MZ team.
We were able to catch up with Max during his trip to Australia prior to the race.
You came from WSBK to Moto2, how have you found the transition between the two categories?
The Superbike had more power but this class is a really hard class but the Moto2 class is really popular in Germany. Since it is so popular there it is a little bit easier to find money. In Superbike, not all the races are live on TV. Also after I raced with the Suzuki Factory Team, I am trying to find a good team to race with again. Over here I have MZ which are a great team and in 2012 we will have a new FTR bike – and we will have more practice and development time and make it better than we did this year.
How has the MZ bike developed over the start of the year to now?
Nothing – it is still the same bike now as it was at the beginning of the year. I ride 2010 FTR bike!
So a new bike next year then?
Yes we will test the 2010, 2011 and 2012 bike in the winter and the one we like best, we will buy.
In WSBK you were quite unlucky with injuries – how did they affect your career and have you fully recovered?
I have fully recovered. The problem was – the Suzuki team was perfect. When things are perfect you can ride fast. With the Honda Ten Kate team, I didn’t feel right in the team and that was the main problem as to why I couldn’t get the results there. From my side I thought something was wrong with the team. Nothing bad against the team – all the guys worked very hard and were friendly but during the race weekend, getting a good setting on the bike wasn’t possible like it was with Suzuki. It was always the same. There I said this, this and this and the mechanics found a way to make the rider fast.
Over here I have MZ which are a great team and in 2012 we will have a new FTR bike – and we will have more practice and development time and make it better than we did this year.
How have you gone coming into the race at Phillip Island?
Coming into the race we are not so bad. I know the track really well – I had two podiums in World Superbike here and I like the track too. In first practice we were in position 11 and in second practice we were 16th – which doesn’t look so good but it was only two tenths to position nine. We are all very close together. We only used one set of tyres and I did my best lap time on an old set of tyres – they were 22 laps old so we are quite happy.
Finally, hopes for the remainder of the season – more top 10s possible on the bike?
Sure – of course. Here on this track I could come in the top 10. I like the track, we just need – not good luck, but no bad luck.
Thanks Max and best of luck.
Interview and article by Sam Tickell, October 2011