Valencia (Spain), Friday 9th April: The Ducati Xerox Team got back to work today as the third round of the World Superbike Championship opened at Valencia and the two Ducati factory riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio are very keen to fight for the podium places this weekend in Spain.

In the first few minutes of the free practice session, which took place in the early afternoon in warm, sunny conditions, Michel was unfortunately victim of a crash at the first corner. Unhurt, he was able to get back out on track on his second bike just minutes later and was able to find good pace and put together several fast laps in the final stages, registering the second fastest time of the session in the process, just one tenth off Carlos Checa's pace. Team-mate Noriyuki made gradual progress throughout the sixty-minute session, using the harder tyre solution and concluding with the eighth fastest time.

Later, in the first qualifying session, and with a track temperature of approximately 33C, Nori and his technicians concentrating on tyre testing, carrying out a long run with very encouraging results. By the end of the session Noriyuki had set the seventh fastest time, just a tenth slower than his team-mate Michel, in sixth. In the final minutes Michel, pushing hard to lower his time, lost the front and fell, but without injuring himself. Michel states that he is still experiencing problems with the front of his 1198 but was nevertheless able to set a fast time to take the sixth slot on today's timesheets.

Michel Fabrizio 1m34.8s

"I still have a problem with the front of the bike, and this was what caused me to fall this afternoon. Having said that, the feeling I have with the bike was better now that it was in the free practice earlier. There's still more to do and my team will work to find a good solution for me this evening so that we can try to improve tomorrow. I'm not totally at ease but I was able to make a few fast laps, especially on used tyres. I hope we can improve further tomorrow."

Noriyuki Haga 1m34.9s

"We started today with the setting that we had worked with during the last tests here, also using the tyre that worked best for us during those January sessions and, although the track conditions were not great today, I think that tyre will last the race distance. This afternoon I also did an endurance run of fourteen laps with the same tyre and it held up well. We need to make a few more modifications to refine the set-up of my 1198 but I'm confident we can perform better tomorrow."

-source: ducati