News 22 Jun 2009

WSBK: Consistent Misano round for Ducati's Fabrizio and Haga

Ducati Xerox:

Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga rode a stressful 24–lap first race at the Misano World Circuit today, in which “flag-to-flag” rules were implemented due to the wet track conditions at the race start. An impressive race from Fabrizio and his Ducati 1198, finishing in third, on the podium for the first time in Misano, while teammate Haga also made up many positions to cross the line in fifth. In Race 2 Fabrizio narrowly missed out on the win, to conclude in second just 0.06 of a second behind Rea (Honda) and less than half a second in front of team-mate Haga.

Despite no win today, with the podiums celebrated by Michel, Noriyuki and privateer Shane Byrne, Ducati reaches a milestone: the two podiums scored in Race 2 signify the 700th and 701st visit by a Ducati rider to the Superbike podium since the championship began. At the same time, Noriyuki today celebrated his 99th Superbike podium.

A frenetic Race 1 ensued when the race was declared wet but the track quickly began to dry, meaning that the Superbike teams put into practice the “flag-to-flag” procedure, with riders able to change bikes, from a wet to a dry set-up, at any point they chose during the race. The majority of the riders on track rode on rain tyres for the first half of the race before making the swap, including Ducati Xerox riders Noriyuki, who came in during lap 10, and Michel in lap 13. Noriyuki lost a few seconds in making the changeover and then both Ducati men admitted that it took a few laps to find feeling with their 1198 machines on the drying surface but they were soon comfortable enough to begin their progression through the field, making up many positions in the latter stages of the race.

Race 2 was dry from start to finish and turned out to be a spectacular three-way battle for the win. Haga made a flying start to take the lead in the opening laps before soon losing the advantage to Jonathan Rea (Honda). In the subsequent laps it was the Ducati Xerox team-mates Noriyuki and Michel who battled it out between themselves for second place with Rea just ahead of them. In the sixteenth lap Michel made a move from second position, got past Jonathan and continued to command the race until the very last lap when Rea manoeuvred his way back past the Italian rider, leaving Fabrizio and Haga to come home in second and third.

The championship leader remains Noriyuki Haga who, after the first eight rounds of the championship, has accumulated 292 points, to the 244 points held by current second-placed rider Ben Spies. Michel Fabrizio chases, just behind Ben with 237 points. Ducati continues to lead the manufacturers championship with 351 points ahead of Yamaha (287 points).

Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – 2nd)
“I did my best to stick with Ben in Race 1 but I think the fact that he changed from wet to dry set-up one or two laps before me made the difference, because I took a few laps to get feeling in the dry and then it was too late to catch him or Shane. In the last lap Smrz was right there on my tail and I went wide at one point but luckily he didn’t get past me and I finished third. In the second race I struggled a little with the front tyre and it seemed that today Rea’s Honda had a little something over us in its acceleration. It’s a shame it couldn’t be another win but, with two podiums today, I’m very happy, it’s my best ever result at this track and I know I did all I could so you can’t ask for more than that. I’ve just a few points behind Ben again now so, yes, I can’t help thinking about the title but in order to be a serious contender I know I need to remain consistent and clock up some race wins from here on in.”

Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 5th, Race 2 – 3rd)
“I am a bit disappointed with how Race 1 turned out. While on the wet set-up I was having all kinds of problems with the rear tyre that was sliding all over the place compared to other riders out there so I lost some positions before I came in to change bikes. Then I went back out on an intermediate/slick tyre combination that was perhaps not so suitable because in the final laps I was finding it difficult to maintain my pace and couldn’t push as I wanted to. Race 2 went much better, I got a great start but once Johnny, and then Michel, came past me it was hard to keep pace; maybe because they are so much younger than I am! Joking aside, I made good points all things considered, especially seeing as this has never been my favourite track, and now I’m looking forward to the next round at Donington where I’ve done well over the years.”

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