Just a few days prior to the Imola Superbike round, taking place from 25th to 27th September, Ducati confirms that both the Ducati Xerox riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio will stay with the team for the 2010 racing season. In the last week Ducatiâ€™s management have reached an agreement with both Noriyuki and Michel, meaning that the two talented riders, currently second and third in the World Superbike standings, will remain on board for the coming year. This important renewal will allow for a continuation of the great work that results from such close collaboration between the technical staff and the riders. For the 34-year old Japanese rider this will be his second consecutive season with the Ducati Xerox squad and is the third for 25-year old Italian Michel who debuted with the team, alongside Troy Bayliss, in 2008.
Noriyuki Haga “I am very happy that this great team continues to believe in me! I thank Ducati, the team and everyone that was involved in making the decision. I have a great relationship with my team and with Michel, and so I am more than happy to stay here in 2010. We don’t yet know how this year will end, but what is certain is that I will continue to do my best, as I do every weekend. Knowing that I have a job for next year will surely spur me on; I will give 200% in Imola this weekend, and then if that’s not enough I’ll redouble my efforts at Magny and Portimao!”
Michel Fabrizio “I’m very happy, I received confirmation of the renewal the day before my birthday and this news was a great end to the week. I’m currently third in the championship and I’ll continue to give my all in the final three rounds. At Imola I’m going to go on fighting my own battle, and then we’ll see how Nori and I are placed! I’ll perhaps change my strategy for the last two races, if need be, in order to assist Nori. Next year I won’t let anyone get ahead as quickly as Nori did this season and I’ll be doing all I can to be near the top of the standings right from the start of the championship.”
Filippo Preziosi — General Director Ducati Corse “Nori and Michel are both racing, and bringing home extremely satisfying results, in what is a very close-fought championship and so Ducati is proud to be able to confirm them both for the 2010 season. The experience they have accumulated this year will surely contribute to even stronger performances in the future. My compliments to the entire team, for the professionalism and passion with which everyone works each weekend at the tracks.”
Brno (Czech Republic), Tuesday 21st July: The Ducati Xerox Team has had nearly a month to recover since the last round at Donington Park last month, and Noriyuki Haga in particular was in need of the break, after suffering a dramatic crash during the second race of the UK’s only Superbike round in which he fractured the ulna bone in his right forearm and cracked his left scapula in three places. In the last three weeks, since leaving Derby City Hospital, Noriyuki has concentrated on intense physiotherapy sessions in order to be ready to return to the fray this coming weekend. Michel Fabrizio scored a podium finish in the UK but knows he can do better at upcoming Brno.
Former Ducati Xerox rider Troy Bayliss did the double at Brno last year on board the Ducati 1098 while Michel Fabrizio scored his best result of the 2008 season with a second and third place finish. Michel lists the track among his favourites, undoubtedly due to the fact that over the last six races he has finished on the podium five times, although he has still to score a win. The Italian rider also holds the record for the fastest lap, recorded with his Ducati 1098 at the Czech track in last year’s second race. Noriyuki has fared fairly well at Brno over the years and won a race there in 2005.
Last week the Ducati Xerox squad participated in an official two-day test session at Imola circuit, arranged by championship organisers Infront Sports. Noriyuki was of course not riding at the tests, but Michel took part and proved that Imola suits his style by being one of the fastest and easily the most consistent rider over the two days. The team were extremely satisfied and collated valuable data in preparation for September’s Imola race weekend.
Noriyuki Haga (1st in championship, 308 points) Noriyuki is confident and knows that the Ducati performs at the Czech track, having witnessed Bayliss do the double on the 1098 in 2008.
“After the crash at Donington I’ve been doing a lot of physiotherapy in order to get back into shape as quickly as possible and in time for Brno. It’s a pity I couldn’t take part in the Imola testing as that would have been very useful but it was just too soon and it’s more important to be fit to race. I’m not sure that my arm and shoulder will be 100% by the weekend but I’m confident I’ll be ready for the races and will fight to take as many points as possible.”
Michel Fabrizio (3rd in championship, 257 points) Taking the results of the last three years into consideration, Michel has performed better and been more consistent at the Automotodrom Brno than any other Superbike rider.
“Brno is probably my favourite track on the calendar, mainly because it’s the circuit where I’ve had most success! Since 2005 I’ve only failed to reach the podium once so that’s not a bad record but I know that this year I have some stiff competition. I will be looking for two more podium finishes, preferably a race win, this weekend as I need to do everything possible to close the gap between me, and Nori and Ben.”
Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) stormed to the top slot in the first day of official Superbike group testing at the Autodromo di Imola today. After 265 minutes of heat-sapping track action at the revised Santerno circuit, the young Italian slammed in an impressive time of 1 minute 49.164 seconds in the final seconds to edge Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) off the top slot. Fabrizio is running singleton for the Ducati factory squad at Imola as points leader Noriyuki Haga is scheduled to return at Brno following his recent Donington crash.
“On the last lap I put on a new tyre to set my time, one of the development tyres that Pirelli brought along for this extreme heat” declared Fabrizio. “We worked a lot on the set-up, something we’ve never managed to do really well during the championship, and we worked on the traction control to try and get the best out of the engine in view of Brno. I really wanted to prove to Ben that I’m right there with him. There are still five rounds left and I think he realizes that by now!”
Right throughout the day the battle had been between Spies and Fabrizio, but they were joined at the end by a group of riders who also set impressive times. Next up was Britain’s Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), just five-tenths down on the front man, while Ruben Xaus (BMW Motorrad) showed great progress for the German squad by powering through into an impressive fourth slot with his quickest time of the day in the closing stages. Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda), fastest in the morning, maintained his good form in the afternoon, improving his time to end up fifth.
Three Brits took the next three positions, but all were over the 1m50s mark, Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati) coming in ahead of Tom Sykes (Yamaha World Superbike) and Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda), while Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati DFX) and Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki Alstare BRUX) completed the top ten runners. Max Neukirchner (Suzuki Alstare BRUX) eased himself back into the WSB scene with an encouraging 14th position, but there was little joy today for Aprilia Racing, as Shinya Nakano and Max Biaggi could only take their RSV4 machines to 12th and 17th respectively.
In the Supersport sessions, Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport) proved to be too strong for the opposition on the first day, the Coventry man posting a time that was six-tenths quicker than Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda). Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) hauled himself up to third place, one tenth behind, Fabien Foret (Yamaha World Supersport) also lapped within a second of the leader to finish fourth, just ahead of Mark Aitchison (Honda Althea) in fifth.
Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) pulled off another amazing double triumph in the ninth round of the Hannspree FIM Superbike World Championship in front of 61,000 spectators at Donington Park. The Texan has now reduced the 48 point gap at the top of the table to 14 from Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), who crashed in race 2, picking up a broken vertebra in the process. Haga’s Italian team-mate Michel Fabrizio was third in race 2 and is now 51 points behind. Aprilia had a good first race, with Max Biaggi second at the finish, while the best of the numerous British platoon present at Donington was Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda), who finished second to Spies in race 2. Donington Park Race 1 Spies continued to steamroller his way to the wins in World Superbike as he took his ninth victory of the year in the first race. After setting his eighth pole in qualifying, the Texan rider dominated the 23-lap race but was shadowed all the way by Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing). The Italian ran faultlessly in second until the final lap, when Ben upped the ante to power to the chequered flag, but Biaggi also encountered a fuel problem a couple of hundred metres from the flag and risked losing out on second. This was Biaggi’s first podium since Qatar. Third went to points leader Haga, who limited the damage in a race where he was not in a position to challenge for the win. In the all-British battle for fourth place, Haslam got the better of Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati). Aprilia’s excellent performance was completed by a sixth place for Shinya Nakano. Home idol and Misano winner Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) could only finish in seventh, ahead of John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda). Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) had a gear change problem and could only finish 12th, while Ruben Xaus scored one point for BMW.
Ben Spies: “It was a tough race for us, Max was there the whole time and we were both able to do quick laps. I got a bit of a gap then made a couple of mistakes and he got back on me. The last three laps I rode as hard as I could, we got down to the 30s, then I couldn’t hear Max coming into the chicane on the last lap so knew something was wrong and I took the last corners easy. We can’t be too conservative now, we have to claw back and get a whole lot of points in a couple of races.”
Max Biaggi: “I am very happy with this result after a very hard decision we made in free practice and qualifying. Yesterday we found a way to go fast and we made the right choice in tires and the balance was correct. In the warm-up we had some problems but for the race we fixed most of them. Just on the last lap at the last chicane we had some trouble, I don’t know what, the bike just stopped and then went back again in the last few meters before the flag. I think I deserved second!”
Noriyuki Haga: “I tried to do my best but the front two guys were very fast. I tried to catch up for the victory but I had to settle for third position. Of course during the laps I tried to push and catch them up but it was quite difficult. Our package was quite different but for the next race we try to change something to improve the riding of the bike.” Race 1 Results: 1. Spies B. (USA) Yamaha YZF R1 34’57.230 (158,831 kph); 2. Biaggi M. (ITA) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 7.156; 3. Haga N. (JPN) Ducati 1098R 10.968; 4. Haslam L. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 18.843; 5. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 19.125; 6. Nakano S. (JPN) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 21.286; 7. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 23.644; 8. Hopkins J. (USA) Honda CBR1000RR 32.849; 9. Smrz J. (CZE) Ducati 1098R 32.904; 10. Kiyonari R. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 33.192; 11. Checa C. (ESP) Honda CBR1000RR 34.535; 12. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 35.093; 13. Camier L. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 35.441; 14. Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 39.034; 15. Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 41.067; 16. Lagrive M. (FRA) Honda CBR1000RR 46.4 Donington Park Race 2 Spies also dominated the second race, but this time without any pressure from his rivals. The Yamaha man immediately pulled away at the start to pick up a seven second lead, which he administered easily to pick up his tenth win of the year. Spies’ double coincided with a disaster for Haga, who crashed out of second place on lap 5 while trying to make up ground on the leader. The Japanese rider was taken to hospital in Derby with a fractured vertebra and other injuries. Race 2 saw a British rider on the podium, thanks to Haslam, who held off Fabrizio. With the outcome of this race, the Italian keeps alive his title chances. Byrne put on another good show, finishing fourth ahead of fellow Brit Tom Sykes. Xaus again scored points for BMW, this time with a positive ninth place. Both Aprilia riders crashed out, Biaggi suffering a hairline crack in his right foot in the process, but remounting to finish 21st, while John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda) did not make it to the start of race 2, the still-injured American totally exhausted after his race 1 efforts.
Ben Spies: “It was a picture perfect weekend, I know Haga had a big crash and hope he’s OK. That’s not the way you want to do it but you’ve got to capitalize when things go wrong. The track was definitely hot in the second race and a little bit slick so we made some changes to the bike that made it better. Fortunately we didn’t have to push to the absolute limit but it all worked great today.” Leon Haslam: “We’ve been struggling for the past few rounds with unknown circuits and I really wanted to get on that podium today. I feel good, obviously feel sorry for Haga because I was pushing him hard and I was pretty happy to get second. In the first race I was really suffering from chatter but everyone in the team has been behind me all weekend so a big thanks to them.” Michel Fabrizio: “Today Ben was very fast and it was impossible to catch him. In the first race I had a problem with the gear change, while in the second I had a great battle with Haslam. I am very happy with the result, but very sorry for Haga and his crash.” Race 2 Results: 1. Spies B. (USA) Yamaha YZF R1 35’14.788 (157,512 kph); 2. Haslam L. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 6.622; 3. Fabrizio M. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 6.816; 4. Byrne S. (GBR) Ducati 1098R 7.349; 5. Sykes T. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 8.145; 6. Camier L. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 13.463; 7. Kiyonari R. (JPN) Honda CBR1000RR 15.751; 8. Ellison J. (GBR) Yamaha YZF R1 16.837; 9. Xaus R. (ESP) BMW S1000 RR 22.891; 10. Andrews S. (GBR) Kawasaki ZX 10R 30.347; 11. Lanzi L. (ITA) Ducati 1098R 30.622;12. Lagrive M. (FRA) Honda CBR1000RR 31.562; 13. Kagayama Y. (JPN) Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9 32.148; 14. Parkes B. (AUS) Kawasaki ZX 10R 32.607; 15. Rea J. (GBR) Honda CBR1000RR 32.806; 16. Scassa L. (ITA) Kawasaki ZX 10R 34.269 Points (after 9 of 14 rounds): 1. Haga 308; 2. Spies 294; 3. Fabrizio 257; 4. Rea 177; 5. Haslam 167; 6. Biaggi 155; 7. Sykes 141; 8. Smrz 115; 9. Checa 114; 10. Byrne 113. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 383; 2. Yamaha 337; 3. Honda 273; 4. Aprilia 162; 5. Suzuki 131; 6. Bmw 70; 7. Kawasaki 47
2009 World Superbike Championship leader Noriyuki Haga has been airlifted to Derby hospital with a fractured vertebra – plus other injuries – after his violent race two crash at Donington Park on Sunday.
Haga fell heavily at Coppice, the fast right-hander which leads onto the back straight, on lap five of the second race, shortly after moving into second position behind double Donington winner, and title rival, Ben Spies.
In a near identical accident to that suffered at the same turn by Ducati Xerox predecessor Troy Bayliss in 2007, the Japanese was thrown from his 1198 as he applied the power and then hit several times by his bike as he tumbled to a halt.
Haga, third in race one, eventually walked away with the support of marshals but was then airlifted to hospital.
“Haga was victim of a serious crash in which he has suffered a fracture of one of the spinal vertebrae,” read a Ducati statement.
“He was immediately transferred to the track’s medical centre where the doctors declared a fracture of one of his vertebrae.
“At this point it was decided to move him by helicopter to Derby hospital where he will receive further medical attention.”
Spies is now just 14 points behind Haga after round nine of 14. The next event takes place at Brno on July 26-28 but Haga’s attendance is in serious doubt.