FABRIZIO (DUCATI XEROX) SECURES PROVISIONAL PLACE ON FRONT ROW FOR SUNDAY'S RACES AT MAGNY-COURS
Magny-Cours (France), Friday 1st October: the two Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga were protagonists during the first day of Superbike action on the French circuit of Magny-Cours, closing first qualifying in second and sixth position respectively. There is an important element of the team missing this weekend, as technical director Marco Lozej unfortunately suffered an ankle injury after an enduro accident the day before departure. The role of race engineer for Michel is covered on this occasion by Ernesto Marinelli.
In the early afternoon's free practice session, both factory riders began their campaigns in convincing fashion, especially Michel who, having made constant progress during the 60 minutes available, was the fastest on track by the close of the session. His final lap of 1m39.1 placed him at the top of the timesheets, three tenths of a second faster than his team-mate Noriyuki who closed in fifth.
Later, in the first qualifying session, the Ducati Xerox pair continued in a similar vein. Roman rider Michel clocked up some impressive lap times, maintaining constant pace with a run of times in the low 1m39s and a best lap of 1m38.9 which put him in second position overall. Fabrizio is looking for podium finishes this weekend; his best result in France until now was a fourth place finish in race 1 last season.
Japanese rider Noriyuki has had a great deal of success at the French track in recent years and today's performance bodes well for Sunday's races. Fast from the start, he dominated the first half of the hour-long session, before a crash caused him to lose valuable time. Taking more than ten minutes to return to the garage after losing the front of his 1198 at turn 8, Noriyuki went straight back out on track on his second bike but unfortunately ran out of time, unable to improve on his best time set earlier. He therefore concluded the session in sixth position, less than one tenth of a second slower than Michel. Close competition saw the first sixteen Superbike riders close first qualifying within seven tenths of a second of each other.
Michel Fabrizio 1m38.9
"We've made a good start. We still have some work to do Tomorrow, to see if we can further improve traction and the feeling I have with the front but I'm happy with what we've got done and with the progress I've made. I'd like to finish top three on Sunday -- I've never been on the podium here and I'm feeling fairly confident for now."
Noriyuki Haga 1m39.0
"It's just a pity I feel because I lost a lot of time in getting back to the garage and then there were only a few minutes left. I'm feeling pretty confident though; this is a track that I like a lot and where I've done well in the past. I'd say that, despite the crash, we have worked well, starting from last year's base. If we can improve the level of traction a little, I think we can run two strong races on Sunday."