An afternoon of highs and lows for Noriyuki Haga, Michel Fabrizio and the Ducati Xerox squad today at the Nurburgring. Having stepped up to the podium in Race, Noriyuki was the victim of a Race 2 incident which saw him walk away unhurt but with a DNF result. Difficulties for Michel too, who for various reasons was unable to obtain the results he had hoped for today.
In Race 1, an all-out duel ensued between Noriyuki Haga on his Ducati 1198 and Ben Spies on the Yamaha. After an accident and subsequent red flag on lap one, the race was restarted and it was Haga who got away quickest, ahead of Rea and Spies. In the first stages Noriyuki was able to build up a gap while Rea and Spies fought it out behind him, but after ten laps Spies had caught up, managing to get past the Japanese rider. The second half of the race was characterized by the fight between the two leaders, both riding on the limit, with Noriyuki taking a new lap record on the 15th lap. Unfortunately, and despite his best efforts, Haga was unable to pass Ben and closed the first race in second position. Michel also got away quickly but was caught up in a chasing group made up of Biaggi, Checa and later Corser and Haslam. Despite maintaining a good pace for the entire 20-lap race, he was able to pass only Corser in the final phase, thus finishing the race in seventh.
In Race 2 the Ducati Xerox riders were far from lucky. Haga immediately took the lead but knoew that Honda riders Checa and Rea were both hot on his heels. Checa got past him on the third lap but when Rea tried to do the same thing on the very next lap, he made contact with the Japanese rider at the end of the straight, causing Nori to fall and signifying the end of his race. For Michel the race panned out in a similar way to the first; despite a good start, technical problems prevented him from maintaining his position, and having moved up as far as fifth during the race, the Italian rider eventually finished ninth.
Today’s results mean that Noriyuki loses the championship lead for the first time this season; he is now 18 points behind Spies, while Michel remains in third place with 289 points. Ducati is still at the top of the manufacturers leader board with 439 points while Yamaha chases with 407.
Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 2nd, Race 2 – DNF)
“Ben got past me after ten laps and from that point on I did all I could to push everywhere so as to stay with him. I basically tried to overtake him everywhere and in some places I came close but in the end I had to settle for second. I am not so happy as I really thought I could win but Ben has a very strong bike here today. Then, before the second race, we made a small suspension modification and I had a better feeling with the rear as the race got underway; I think that would have been of benefit if I had reached the final stages of the race, but unfortunately, just I started to push to catch Checa, Rea came up fast on the straight and hit me. There was nothing I could do and I couldn’t restart the bike. I’m angry as it is the second time this has happened; I guess the only consolation is that I’m not hurt.”
Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – 7th, Race 2 – 9th)
“What can I say? The weekend didn’t go to plan. In Race 1 I had problems with rear grip and once that race was over my technicians discovered a problem with gearing which meant I had to go out with the second bike in Race 2. Unfortunately the engine of the second bike didn’t perform as it should, as it seemed as I was missing acceleration coming out of the corners, meaning it was impossible to stick with the group ahead of me. It can only go better at Imola.”