The final round of the 2009 Superbike World Championship, taking place this weekend at the Portuguese track of Portimao, will see an all out battle for the title between championship leader, Ducati Xerox rider Noriyuki Haga and Yamaha’s Ben Spies. Noriyuki, having led the championship for the best part of the season, and having finished five previous championships in either second or third position, now has a small, but significant, ten point advantage over Spies and is hungry for his first World Superbike Championship title, as is his squad, the Ducati Xerox Team, winners of the 2008 championship with Troy Bayliss.
The Ducati Xerox Team has already secured the 2009 World Superbike Manufacturers title, for the sixteenth time, after a stunning win and second place finish by Nitro-Nori at Magny-Cours two weeks ago. Over the season, Noriyuki and Michel have so far clocked up ten wins and thirty-two podium finishes between them and already hold a combined points total of 782 going into this final round.
The factory squad now looks to Portimao and, now that the Manufacturers title has already been brought home to Borgo-Panigale, concentration turns to the all-important Riders title, already won thirteen times in the past by the Ducati team, with riders of such calibre as Troy Bayliss and Carl Fogarty.
Last year at Portimao both Noriyuki and Michel had problems in the first race, with Nori suffering a technical setback and Michel crashing out on the opening lap. In Race 2 Michel had a much better time of it, running up front before crossing the line in second place, behind former team-mate Bayliss. Noriyuki was unfortunately penalised for a jump start in the second race and, once he’d made a ride through the pits, he was unable to make up the lost ground, closing in 14th position.
With everything to play for, Noriyuki, Michel and the Ducati Xerox Team are fighting fit and ready to fight for the ultimate prize, during a weekend that promises spectacular racing.
Noriyuki Haga (1st in championship, 436 points)
“Last year at Portimao didn’t go to plan; I had some bad luck. This year I am in a better position and now everything comes down to this last event. My strategy won’t be any different from normal; I always go out with the aim to win and I always give 100%. I’ve finished second or third in the last five editions of the Superbike championship and so all I am missing is the title win, a title I hope to be able to bring home to Ducati and to Japan this weekend.”
Haga’s Superbike form at Portimao:
2008: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 14th
Michel Fabrizio (3rd in championship, 346 points)
“I’ve very happy with how my season’s gone and I would like to finish the year with two more podiums. I’m feeling confident and am reassured that the third position that I hold in the standings can’t be taken from me as fourth place Max is too far behind to catch up now. I hope Noriyuki can take the title for Ducati and I’ll be backing him all the way this weekend.”
Fabrizio’s Superbike form at Portimao:
2008: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 2nd