The Ducati Xerox Team will cross the Channel tomorrow, just three days after completing Round 7 at Misano, to race this coming weekend at historic Donington Park, the scene of the first ever Superbike race held back in 1988 and won by now Ducati Xerox Team Manager Davide Tardozzi.
In an effort to strike a compromise between 2007’s April appointment and last year’s September date at Donington, the organisers this year settled on June for the annual World Superbike event, perhaps in the hope of more favourable weather conditions. Last year heavy rain overshadowed Sunday’s proceedings, causing many riders to crash out. Noriyuki was one of those who did not enjoy 2008’s appointment, when he suffered a technical problem in Race 1 and was penalised in Race 2, resulting in two DNFs and zero points. Michel also took a fall in Race 1 on a slippery track but made up for this somewhat by finishing race 2 in fifth position.
One of the shortest circuits on the World Superbike calendar (4.023 km), Ducati has had great success at Donington, having celebrated race wins in the past with various riders including Corser, Hodgson, Fogarty (still today the rider who has won more races at Donington than any other rider, with a total of six wins) and, most recently, with Troy Bayliss and his 1098 F08 last year. The circuit featured on the calendar each year from 1988 to 2001 before an five year absence and a reappearance on the 2007 schedule.
Just two days ago Noriyuki and Michel had some atypical weather to do deal with at the Misano World Circuit but were not deterred, Michel finishing the two races in third and second place, Noriyuki in fifth and third.
Noriyuki has finished on the podium in 12 of the 16 races held so far and Michel in 10 which means that Ducati Xerox Team have been on the podium in 100% of the races, represented either by Haga or Fabrizio or by both.
Noriyuki Haga Speaks… (1st in championship, 292 points)
"Last year I didn’t have much luck at Donington at all, but if I put that aside, over the years I’ve done ok there and have had some race wins. I’m still in the lead but I’ll be doing all I can to extend the advantage I have. I realise that some of the Brits will be up there fighting for the podium places at their home track but I’ll be giving them a run for their money."
Noriyuki has not yet been able to replicate his double win of 1998 at this British track.
Haga’s Superbike form at Donington:
2008: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – DNF
2007: Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – winner
2000: Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 4th
1999: Race 1 – 10th, Race 2 – 6th
1998: Race 1 – winner, Race 2 – winner
Michel Fabrizio Speaks… (3rd in championship, 237 points)
"Well, after the results in Misano, two more podiums, I can’t help thinking about the title but I realise that to be in the running I need to secure more race wins, so that’s my aim, starting from this weekend at Donington. The best I’ve done there until now is 5th but I’d always done badly at Misano too, and then that changed this year, so we’ll see if I can make a similar improvement in the UK."
Roman rider Michel has finished on the podium in the last eight consecutive races and is hopeful for a continuation of that success.
Fabrizio’s Superbike form at Donington:
2008: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 5th
2007: Race 1 – 13th, Race 2 – 12th
Name: Donington Park
Circuit length: 4.023 km
Pole position: left
Corners left: 5
Corners right: 10
Race distance: 23 laps = 92.529 km
LAP RECORDS: Fastest lap – Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1’31.575 (2007). Superpole – Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1’30.370 (2007).
2008 RESULTS: Race 1 – 1. Bayliss (Ducati Xerox); 2. Sykes (Suzuki); 3. Biaggi (Ducati). Race 2 – 1. Kiyonari (Honda); 2. Crutchlow (Honda); 3. Corser (Yamaha).