Ten Kate Honda have confirmed that Max Neukirchner has signed with the team for the 2010 World Superbike season.
After a bizarre week with the Alstare Suzuki team, who refused to offer the German a contract for next season after he failed to provide medical evidence as to his fitness to race, has made the widely expected switch to the factory Honda team for 2010 to partner British rider Jonathan Rea.
After a strong season in 2008, Neukirchner has been hit by successive injury blows, with crashes at Monza and a test at Imola meaning that he hasn’t featured since Assen in round five.
But despite the fall out with Suzuki over his medical condition, the FIM’s Medical Commission passed him fit to race and he is expected to feature in the post-season test in Portimao next week.
“I have to say that my feeling is really good right now,” said Neukirchner. “The Ten Kate team is so big and experienced and the CBR1000RR is clearly such a strong package.
“Jonathan has proved that with his victories this year and I’m really looking forward to being his team-mate 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.”
“As much as anyone else, we were caught by surprise when we found out about Max’s availability,” claimed team manager Ronald ten Kate. “We immediately saw a ‘dream team’ line-up with Jonathan Rea, which is probably the youngest pairing ever in a World Superbike championship team, with both riders already having wins under their belts.
“We understand that Max may need some time to find his full race-craft again but we are quite sure that his talent, motivation and determination will get him quickly back up to speed.”
The signing will mean that both Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari will be looking for new rides, with Ten Kate announcing earlier this season that they would be cutting their WSB entries from three to two.