Haga and Toseland serve up Magny Cours stunner It may 'only' have been the battle for second place in the 2006 Superbike World Championship, but Yamaha Motor Italia's Noriyuki Haga and Honda rider James Toseland certainly served up an end of ...
Haga and Toseland serve up Magny Cours stunner
It may 'only' have been the battle for second place in the 2006 Superbike World Championship, but Yamaha Motor Italia's Noriyuki Haga and Honda rider James Toseland certainly served up an end of season thriller at Magny Cours today.
Along with outgoing world champion Troy Corser (Suzuki), Haga and Toseland gave the fans probably the best racing of the year as they traded positions corner after corner in the day's opening race.
Haga did a remarkable job to even catch the leading group after running wide under braking on the first lap. That put the Japanese rider way down to 13th in the pack but, undeterred, Nitro Nori lit the afterburners to charge through the pack and challenge for the lead by lap nine of the 23 lap race.
The leading quartet, with new world champion Troy Bayliss (Ducati) hanging in the background, traded places with the outcome of the race hanging in the balance until the final lap, with Toseland leading the Yamaha man across the line by one tenth of a second, Corser no more than a few lengths behind.
Race two proved to be more of the same for the fans, although this time Haga was unable to challenge for the lead as Bayliss, Corser and Toseland fought it out a few seconds ahead of him. The Japanese rider had retained the same machine settings for the second outing, but found that his rear tyre performance was less impressive than in the opener. Bayliss went on to take his 12th win from 24 races, with Corser second and Toseland third. The result sees Haga repeat his 2006 performance, ending the year third in the standings.
Haga's team-mate Andrew Pitt ended his best ever season with a fine fifth place in race two. The Australian suffered disappointment in the opener when he slid off on lap two, but showed typical grit to pull his R1 out of the sand trap and finish the race, albeit just outside the points. In the second outing Pitt struggled for front end feel and ran just behind the leading group to take fifth at the flag and fifth in the championship, missing out on fourth place to Corser by just five points.
The Yamaha Motor France squad had a mixed day at their home race. Shinichi Nakatomi was the top individual performer, showing stunning speed as race one wore on to charge through to tenth, although the Japanese rider ended his debut world championship season in the gravel, crashing out of race two. Countryman Norick Abe took 13th and 12th place finishes, with local favourite Sebastien Gimbert retired from the opener with brake problems and took 11th in race two. In the championship, Abe finished 13th, Nakatomi 17th and Gimbert 19th on the kit part development bikes.
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)
"The first race was good fun with some big fighting with James and Troy. I made a mistake under braking but the bike worked very good and I was able to push hard and catch the leaders. For the second race we kept everything the same but unfortunately rear tyre performance was not as good and after two or three laps I knew that it would be very hard to win the race. I am a little disappointed not to be able to take second in the championship today. I only finished 10 points behind Toseland in the championship and it for sure there were some places where we lost points."
Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)
"We went for a softer front tyre in race two and on the brakes, going into corners, it was moving a little bit. It was never one I really liked, but I used the harder one in race one and crashed. I didn't quite have the speed in the early laps, and I just hung in there and got back up to fifth, which was an ok result to end the season on. We've had a good season I'd like to thank Yamaha for giving me this opportunity to run at the front of the championship for the past two years."
Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France)
"So-so! This weekend everything was pretty bad with the set-up in qualifying and afterwards. Other times we can improve on race day but this time it maybe got worse. The lap times were not as good as in qualifying. I don't know why. I have raced two years in this team and everyone is so kind, it is like a family now."
Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France)
"In race one I had a good finishing position, up on what I could do normally. In race two we changed the settings a little bit and they were better, and I was behind Walker and Kagayama. I pushed and pushed but the front washed out and I fell down."
Sebastien Gimbert(Yamaha Motor France)
"My races were unbelievable. I had a problem in race one with a warped brake rotor and no brakes. Then I had no grip in the second race. But I finished 11th and scored good points."
Massimo Meregalli (Yamaha Motor Italia)
"Having both riders in the top five is a fine achievement for our team, although there has to be some disappointment as our target at the start of the season was to go for the title. We've improved a lot this year and it gives us a good base for next season. Today Noriyuki made the same tyre choice for the two races, but in the second the rear did not work the same. In the first race it had been perfect but in the second the bike started to slide after around two laps. Andrew was not so confident with the front end today and couldn't push as hard as he wanted to. In the end he did the best he could and fifth in the championship is a good result."
Martial Garcia (Team Manager - Yamaha Motor France)
"Sebastien was not so lucky with a warped disc in race one. In race two, finishing between Barros and Abe was a good result. Abe got some useful points for the team, and it was too bad that he did not have enough grip. The tenth of Nakatomi was very nice, although he fell in race two. I would like to thank everyone for their efforts in 2006."
-credit: yamaha racing