News 27 Jul 2009

WSBK: Ducati's Haga maintains series lead after brave Brno


A day of highs and lows for the Ducati Xerox squad but the day finishes positively, Noriyuki Haga maintains the championship lead while Michel Fabrizio consolidates his third position.

Michel Fabrizio, fast all weekend, was expected to finish on the podium twice at Brno today and, if it hadn’t been for a costly mistake in Race 1, that’s probably how it would have turned out. He made up for the DNF of the first race somewhat with a third place finish in Race 2. Noriyuki was a hero today, riding two great races, in spite of his injuries. He had suffered in every session due to the fractured scapula sustained at Donington Park, and even he himself said it would be hard to finish in the points zone today but he did just that, in both Race 1, finishing eighth, and Race 2, taking sixth position.

In Race 1 Michel was immediately up in the leading group, and gained one position in each of the first four laps to find himself second, behind Spies, by the end of the fourth lap. In trying to get past Ben on the subsequent lap, Michel took the inside line on the final corner, losing unfortunately the front and the bike, and causing the blameless Yamaha rider to fall too. An unfortunate result for the two championship contenders who walked away unhurt. In the second race Michel was again one of the protagonists, up front once more with Spies and Biaggi. A fight for second position ensued between the two Roman riders, allowing Spies to gain an advantage. At a certain point Michel realised it would be difficult to catch the two leaders and he accepted third place.

Noriyuki rode two of the bravest races of his career today, getting straight to work in Race 1, and making up three positions during the opening lap alone. With several riders crashing out, team-mate Fabrizio included, Nitro-Nori progressed up to eighth place by the seventh lap, and spent the remainder of the race battling it out against Smrz, Tamada and Haslam. Making it past fellow Japanese rider Tamada on lap sixteen, Noriyuki crossed the finish line in a worthy eighth position, taking eight points and thus extending his championship lead to 22 points over Spies. Doctor Corbascio of the Clinica Mobile continued to administer painkillers and injections to the sore shoulder during the day, doing everything possible to enable Nori to complete the race distance. In Race 2 Haga made up six positions by making a strong start and, by passing both Byrne and Corser, he then remained in sixth position for the remainder of the race, a few seconds off the pace of the leaders, and far enough ahead of the chasing pack to be safe.

The 10 points earned in race 2 mean that Haga maintains his advantage in the overall classification, with 326 points to Spies’ 319. Fabrizio holds third position with 273 points. Ducati leads the constructors championship with a fifty point advantage over Yamaha.

Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 2nd)
“I am very sorry for what happened in Race 1. It was my fault, I need to stay calmer, what more can I say? Before the crash I saw that Ben was breaking early at htat point of the track, so I thought I could get past him there. We’re fighting for a world title so I am angry with myself but at least neither of us were badly hurt. We made up for it to some extent in race 2, Ben more than me. I did all I could to stay with Ben and Max but they were too fast today; in fact the pace of the Aprilia, still in the development phase, is a bit scary with a view to next season. Anyway, I hold the third position overall and after the summer break I’ll continue with the fight for the title.”

Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 8th, Race 2 – 1st)
“I am not very happy but we have worked well this weekend despite the difficulties. The fractured scapula prevented me from performing as I hoped to. Having said that, I gained valuable points and find myself still in the lead, seven points ahead of Ben. I want to thank Doctor Corbascio and the Clinica Mobile doctors and also Rok, my trainer, for their help and support in these weeks. I also thank my team and Ducati for doing all they could to make me more comfortable on the bike and make the bike easier to ride. In the circumstances it’s a good result. Now I can go home to Japan with a smile on my face and there I will get down to some serious training to be in top form in time for Nurburgring, a track that I like a lot and where I hope I can rebuild my advantage.”