Nurburgring (Germany) Friday 4th September: The German Superbike race weekend got off to a damp start with both the free practice and first qualifying sessions characterised by grey skies and a persistent rain, with temperatures in the region of 12-14°C. The Ducati Xerox riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio have both returned from the summer break more determined than ever in a championship that is still wide open and so, despite the adverse conditions, they didn’t waste any time in getting back to grips with their Ducati 1198 machines.
Noriyuki made consistent progress throughout the first hour to close the session with the fastest overall time, while Michel and his team spent time making modifications to the set-up, concluding free practice in ninth place. Later in the afternoon, the first qualifying session was also conditioned by rain but despite this almost all the Superbike riders were able to improve on the times set in free practice, Noriyuki and Michel included. The two Ducati Xerox riders thus closing day one in a promising fourth (Michel) and fifth place (Noriyuki).
Michel Fabrizio Speaks… 2m12.3s
"I am fairly satisfied for now. It’s always difficult in these unpredictable conditions but I guess the weekend will be conditioned by this type of weather. We’ve made good progress however and I hope I can further improve the feeling I have on the wet tomorrow morning, as we’ve already seen that several riders are going strong here in the rain. With the tyres we don’t have much choice, only the soft compound gave me confidence and I made 23 laps on the same tyre to evaluate its wear. I hope for two dry races but even if it’s wet I feel I’ll be competitive."
Noriyuki Haga Speaks… 2m12.6s
"I’m feeling fairly comfortable on the bike and the testing we did earlier this week in Mugello has definitely benefitted me because my shoulder is feeling a lot better and hasn’t bothered me too much today in these cool conditions. During those tests we tried different set-ups and decided on the best path to follow this weekend. So far it’s been going ok in the rain but of course we don’t know how it will be tomorrow. I’m looking to ride in the dry on Sunday but it’s impossible to predict."
1. Rea (Honda) 2m11.2s; 2. Sykes (Yamaha) 2m11.7s; 3. Corser (BMW) 2m12.0s; 4. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 2m12.3s; 5. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 2m12.6s; 6. Byrne (Ducati); 2m12.8s; 7. Haslam (Honda) 2m12.9s; 8. Smrz (Ducati) 2m13.0s