ROUND 2 AND THE SUPERBIKES EMBARK ON THE EUROPEAN TOUR, FIRST STOP PORTIMAO FOR THE DUCATI XEROX TEAM Portimao (Portugal), Monday 22nd March 2010: In a change to the World Superbike calendar the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is this ...
ROUND 2 AND THE SUPERBIKES EMBARK ON THE EUROPEAN TOUR, FIRST STOP PORTIMAO FOR THE DUCATI XEROX TEAM
Portimao (Portugal), Monday 22nd March 2010: In a change to the World Superbike calendar the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is this year hosting the first European round of the championship. For the last two years the final event of the international race series took place on the Portuguese track, and in truly spectacular style on both occasions, with Troy Bayliss' spectacular double win for Ducati Xerox in 2008 followed by the showdown between Ducati Xerox rider Haga and Yamaha's Spies in 2009. While in 2008 Bayliss has already been crowned World Champion at the penultimate race event, in 2009 the rider's title went to the wire with Noriyuki ten points ahead of American Spies as the final race weekend opened. Unfortunately a crash for the Japanese rider in Race 1 put him at a disadvantage and even a second place finish subsequently achieved in Race 2 was not enough for him to take the title, which went to Spies by just six points. Michel won the second race ahead of his team-mate, also taking the lap record in the process.
Turning the page to the 2010 season, the action got underway three weeks ago at Phillip Island, and Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga, two of the favourites for this year's title, made a strong start by taking three podium finishes (Michel, 2nd and 3rd, Noriyuki 3rd). Michel missed out on a race win by the closest ever margin, crossing the line just 0.004 of a second behind Haslam on the Suzuki, and Nori, victim of a crash in Sunday morning's warm-up, put up a good fight in the face of injury to take 27 points over the two races.
Having already tested at Portimao earlier this year in wet and wintry conditions, the Ducati Xerox squad now returns to the Algarve once more, for what will hopefully prove to be a winning race weekend for both championship contenders Noriyuki and Michel. This is only the third year of Superbike competition at the Autodromo Internacional, the construction of the circuit having been completed during 2008.
Michel Fabrizio (2nd in championship, 36 points)
Michel likes the Portuguese circuit and demonstrated this with a win in Race 2 last season.
"We made a good start to the championship a few weeks ago at Phillip Island and took some good points. It's a pity I lost out on the Race 1 win but the racing was great fun; it sure was a close finish! I'm in second position in the standings which isn't bad and now we move to Portimao, another track that I really enjoy racing, and I'll be looking for race wins; I need to consolidate the strong start that we've made because this year will inevitably a very long and hard-fought competition."
Fabrizio's Superbike form at Portimao:
2009: Race 1 -- 5th, Race 2 - winner
2008: Race 1 -- DNF, Race 2 -- 2nd
Noriyuki Haga (4th in championship, 27 points)
Unlike Michel, Nori does not list Portimao among his favourite tracks; he lost the championship to Spies here last season.
"I had a few problems during the races at Phillip Island as I had crashed that morning in warm-up, hurting my right arm and lower back. The injuries made it hard for me to keep pace with Michel, Checa and Haslam and so I was fairly happy with my results and the points gained. Now I'm feeling a lot better and am looking ahead to the coming weekend -- I haven't had the best luck at the track over the last two years, so it's not my favourite but we hope to score two good results."
Haga's Superbike form at Portimao:
2009: Race 1 -- DNF, Race 2 -- 2nd
2008: Race 1 -- DNF, Race 2 -- 14th