Corser and Haga star in Phillip Island thriller Noriyuki Haga scored his first podium finish of the season as the Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team served up some terrific entertainment at Phillip Island today. Having secured front row starts on...
Corser and Haga star in Phillip Island thriller
Noriyuki Haga scored his first podium finish of the season as the Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team served up some terrific entertainment at Phillip Island today.
Having secured front row starts on their still-developing YZF-R1s, Haga and team-mate Troy Corser were able to run with the leading group in both races. Corser was straight into the thick of things in the day's opener and the Australian lowered the lap record as he bridged a small gap to leading pair James Toseland (Honda) and Troy Bayliss (Ducati). With lap times under qualifying pace, Corser ran with the leading group for the first half of the race but was unable to maintain the pace of the leading duo. With his lap times dropping by two seconds on worn tyres, Troy was passed on lap 20 by Max Biaggi (Suzuki) with Haga relegating him to fifth on the final lap.
In the day's second race the Yamaha riders were able to take advantage of the slightly slower pace in the opening laps to preserve tyre life. That allowed both men to stay part of the five rider battle for the lead until the closing stages, when Toseland upped his pace to take the win from Bayliss. Haga rode brilliantly to take the final position on the podium, holding an off a determined late charge from his rivals, while Corser was unlucky to miss out on fourth after being slipstreamed by Biaggi across the line.
Team YZF Yamaha's Shinichi Nakatomi scored points in both races today, taking 13th place each time. The Japanese rider improved his performances as the weekend progressed to score six championship points.
Today's results see Toseland extend his championship lead to 16 points over Biaggi. Haga lies fourth in the standings, on 50 points, with Corser a further five points adrift in fifth place. The series takes close to a one-month race before moving to Donington Park for the championship's 20th anniversary meeting on 1 April. The English circuit played host to the very first world superbike race on 3 April 1988 and returns to the calendar for the first time since 2001. Before then the teams will have a test at the Valencia circuit in Spain, when the Yamaha teams hope to try out a range of new settings and parts on their YZF-R1s.
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team)
"I have had a cold this weekend and I did not feel very good throughout practice. The second race was tough because of the higher temperature but it was also good fun. After the start I was fighting with four other riders but I tried to save the rear tyre as much as possible for the last few laps. The grip was definitely better than in the first and I was thinking that I could push in the last five laps. But when the front guys went I realized that I could not push hard enough and decided to try and go for the third. I'm happy with a third place. The team has done a very good job this weekend and I hope that we will have some new parts to make us more competitive in the next race."
Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team)
"I'm disappointed because when I come to Phillip Island I expect a minimum of two podiums, and I thought I rode well enough to achieve that. But that's racing. We changed the bike for the second race and it was definitely better for the tyre, although I also rode a little differently because I knew what to expect from the tyre. At the end of the day we weren't fast enough. The rest of the bike was really good but we just needed some more legs down the straight. We'll go to Valencia and try and improve the bike before going to Donington Park. That's another track I really like so we'll just need to see what happens there."
Shinichi Nakatomi (Team YZF Yamaha)
"I am quite happy with my performance today. In the first race I was riding in a group for a few laps but made a mistake and lost some time. I was able to improve my lap times for the rest of the race and I was pleased that my overall race time was 10 seconds faster in the second race. I was able to have a good fight with Josh Brookes and tried a last lap attack, although I was not able to get past. I now have a better feeling with the bike and the team is working hard to give me more performance for the next race."
Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator - Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team)
"We made a big improvement between the races. We made some suspension changes and the hotter temperatures also made a big difference. In past years we have not had such great results here so for me getting a podium is a good result. We still have a small gap to make up but if we continue like this then I am sure we will be able to close it."