WORLD SUPERBIKES, AND HAGA (DUCATI XEROX), RETURN TO RACE AT KYALAMI AFTER A SIX YEAR ABSENCE Kyalami (South Africa) Tuesday 12th May: after a six year absence the World Superbike circus returns this season to the South African track...
WORLD SUPERBIKES, AND HAGA (DUCATI XEROX), RETURN TO RACE AT KYALAMI AFTER A SIX YEAR ABSENCE
Kyalami (South Africa) Tuesday 12th May: after a six year absence the World Superbike circus returns this season to the South African track of Kyalami and the Ducati Xerox team packs their bags for another long-haul trip.
Last there in 2002, when then Ducati factory rider Troy Bayliss powered his 998 to victory in both of the day's races, the current Ducati Xerox factory squad and riders, Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, look forward to the challenge that the only "new" circuit to feature on this year's calendar will surely provide.
Noriyuki has the added advantage of having raced, and won, Superbike events at this track before. He is one of very few current Superbike riders to have already raced there, between 1998 and 2002; only "veterans" Xaus, Laconi and Corser have raced alongside Nitro-Nori at Kyalami in the past and, of these, only Noriyuki has ever achieved a race win.
Having taken part in the Pirelli development tests here in December, and having registered in the process some extremely fast lap times with the Ducati 1198 bikes, the Ducati factory squad and it's riders Noriyuki and Michel are all confident that they are ready for the challenge that Kyalami sets them. On the final day of the winter test session, Michel registered a flying lap of 1m39.7s on a qualifying tyre, the fastest lap ever made by a motorcycle at the Kyalami track. After four years on board the Yamaha, Noriyuki rode his new Ducati 1198 for the first time during those winter tests and made an immediate impression by recording the third fastest time overall.
Last weekend at Monza Michel had the best Superbike race weekend of his career so far, winning Race 1 and finishing runner-up in Race 2. Noriyuki followed his team-mate across the line to take second in Race 1 but was unable to fight for the Race 2 victory after he suffered an unlikely incident at the start of the that race; a large bird flew into his right arm while he was riding at a speed of 238km/h, causing the laceration of his bicep muscle and subsequent fall.
Noriyuki Haga (1st in championship, 200 points)
Noriyuki, one of the stalwarts of World Superbikes, is the only current rider able to say that he has won a Superbike race at Kyalami before now, back in 2000.
"My arm is still sore today after my run in with a bird at Monza but I'll be fine to race this weekend. I have to think back a long way to remember the 2000 win at Kyalami! But I recall that in the other race that day I had a really close battle for the win with Colin (Edwards) and Fogarty. It's a great track and I'm happy to go back there again. Winter testing went well there, but it was my first experience riding the 1198 so there were a few ups and downs let's say! Now I'm at ease on the bike and we're well into the season, it'll be interesting to go back and see how we fare over the race weekend -- it should be fun."
Michel Fabrizio (3rd in championship, 125 points)
Michel, part of the current crop of young Superbike riders, has not yet had the chance to race at Kyalami but was consistently the fastest rider on track in pre-season winter testing sessions held there in December.
"Having at last won a race this weekend at Monza I just want to win again as soon as possible! From what I learned of the track during the winter I can say that I'm really looking forward to this round. The Kyalami circuit is really fun to ride and I did well at the two "new" tracks in 2008 (Salt Lake City and Portimao) so I'd like it if this year's new track were also to bring me similar luck. We recorded some very fast lap times during the test days and so of course we hope that conditions over the race weekend allow us to maintain that pace."