WSBK: Suzuki Alstare names 2010 team

Team parts with Neukirchner over medical dispute

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Oct. 14, 2009
World Superbike racer Leon Haslam has signed with Suzuki Alstare for 2010, replacing Max Neukirchner who was released by the team because of a conflict over his health.

Haslam currently sits in sixth place for Stiggy Honda in the championship standings, trailing Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea by 38 points heading into the final round.

“The opportunity to join Team Suzuki Alstare was something that my father (former Grand Prix racer Ron Haslam) and I took extremely seriously immediately,” says Haslam. “The team enjoys direct support from the manufacturer and a long history of success, so joining them offers me an exciting step forward in my career.”

Haslam will race in 2010 with Sylvain Guintoli who is currently racing for the Worx Suzuki British Superbike team. Guintoli will take the Suzuki Altare position currently occupied by Yukio Kagayama who will return to the Crescent Suzuki BSB team.

To make room for Haslam, Suzuki Alstare announced it is parting ways with Neukirchner. The German rider’s contract with Suzuki Alstare was supposed to be extended for 2010 but the team decided to cut ties with Neukirchner because of his uncertain health.

Neukirchner was injured in a crash at the Monza, Italy round May 10 but was scheduled to return at the July 26 round in Brno, Czech Republic. Neukirchner’s comeback was short-lived as he suffered another injury after crashing during official WSBK tests at Imola, Italy.

Max Neukirchner and Suzuki Alstare part ways after a disagreement about the rider's health.

Suzuki Alstare and Neukirchner seemed to disagree on his recovery process. According to Suzuki Alstare, Neukirchner was asked to report to team headquarters for a medical examination but the rider did not make the appointment. Suzuki Alstare informed Neukirchner that his contract would not be extended because they could not verify his fitness level. In three years with Suzuki Alstare, Neukirchner has two wins and nine podium appearances.

After Suzuki Alstare announced the signing of Haslam, Neukirchner signed on to race for Hannspree Ten Kate Honda in 2010 alongside Rea. 

The team said in a statement Neukirchner was given a clean bill of health from doctors including a member of the FIM’s medical commission and that he will be ready to take part in the post-season test in Portimao, Portugal Oct. 27-28.

“I have to say that my feeling is really good right now. The Ten Kate team is so big and experienced and the CBR1000RR is clearly such a strong package,” says Neukirchner. “Jonathan (Rea) has proved that with his victories this year and I’m really looking forward to being his teammate as we are good friends. It feels really great to be back on a Honda; I am feeling fit and I’m determined to put a good season together next year.”