DUCATI XEROX RIDER HAGA'S HOPES ARE HIGH; FIRST "HOME" RACE FOR THE FACTORY SQUAD THIS WEEK AT MONZA Monza (Italy), Monday 4th May: eight of the 2009 World Superbike season's twenty-eight races have already been run and Ducati Xerox rider ...
DUCATI XEROX RIDER HAGA'S HOPES ARE HIGH; FIRST "HOME" RACE FOR THE FACTORY SQUAD THIS WEEK AT MONZA
Monza (Italy), Monday 4th May: eight of the 2009 World Superbike season's twenty-eight races have already been run and Ducati Xerox rider Noriyuki Haga has powered his Ducati 1198 machine as far as the podium in 100% of the races held so far, winning four of them and finishing second in the rest. Next stop Monza, the first of three "home" rounds for the Italian factory squad and their riders, particularly for Noriyuki who resides in Milan.
Noriyuki has led this season's championship right from the opening round and now holds a 60-point advantage over the chasing pack while Michel's strong results at Valencia and Assen mean that he maintains his fourth place on the leader board. At this stage last year, heading into fifth round Monza, Noriyuki and Michel found themselves in sixth and thirteenth place respectively in the classification, so for both riders the situation at this point is already much improved with respect to 2008. At the latest round, held two weeks ago in Assen, Noriyuki took his fourth win of the season and a second place while Michel boosted his points total by finishing the two races in ninth and fourth position.
Last month the Ducati Xerox factory squad completed a successful two-day test session at Monza's Autodromo Nazionale and thus hopes that the work carried out during those days will come to fruition this weekend.
For Noriyuki the event is as close to a "home" race as he gets as, although there is no Japanese round, he has been a resident of Milan for several years, meaning that support for Nitro-Nori, and his Italian team-mate Michel, will definitely not be in short supply.
It is interesting to note that the track has, historically, been extremely kind to the Ducati factory squad, with riders Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson, R0x00e9gis Laconi and Troy Bayliss having tallied up six double wins between them since 1999.
In his role as Ducati ambassador, reigning Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss will also be present at the track this weekend to support both Noriyuki and Michel and meet with the countless Ducatisti who, in turn, can benefit this year from a dedicated Ducati grandstand, "Ducati Village" and bike park.
Noriyuki Haga (1st in championship, 180 points)
Nori's recent results at Monza have been outstanding with three wins and a second place finish in the last four races held here in 2008 and 2007, a similar result this year would certainly boost his points advantage.
"We did some testing at Monza recently and it was my first chance to rider the 1198 there. Although we had a few problems, I know these will be resolved for the race weekend. I am already really excited about the Monza race. I am not thinking about the possibility of winning the championship, I just think about each race, taking one weekend at a time. Of course at Monza I hope to win again, especially because it is my home circuit!"
Michel Fabrizio (4th in championship, 80 points)
Michel won the Superstock 1000 round here in 2003, the year he went on to take the title in that category, but has not been back on the podium since.
"I am in a hopeful mood ahead of Monza, the first of three "home" races so I want to do well of course. We've done some testing there and the results of those tests were very positive. The tyres that Pirelli provided us with performed well and we hope this is the case during the race weekend too. A year ago I finished Race 2 here in fifth place, let's say that this time around I hope to dramatically improve on that result in front of the Italian fans."