Ducati Xerox leads World Superbike testing at Imola (photo)

Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), having made steady progress and some very fast laps throughout the day, waited until the final minutes of today’s official test session at the international circuit of Imola to exit for the final time, recording in the process the fastest lap time of the day, 1m49.1s.

The Ducati Xerox Team are taking part in the two-day official test session, organized by Infront Motor Sports, that opened today at the squad’s home track, the Autodromo Internazionale of Imola. Having not raced here since 2006, the Superbike circus will return to the circuit for the twelfth round of the 2009 championship on September 27th.

Noriyuki Haga, still recuperating from the recent incident at Donington Park, is not riding at Imola this week and continues with intense physiotherapy treatment in order to be ready to get back in the hot seat at next week’s tenth Superbike round in Brno.

Michel Fabrizio, who won the Superstock 1000 race at this track in 2003, got off to a great start today and he and his team were able to get a great deal of work done . The extreme heat, with track temperatures of around 60°C during the afternoon session, took its toll but the Ducati Xerox Team made consistent progress, trying different set-ups and working with the traction controls system. During the 265 minutes of Superbike track time, Michel clocked up 52 laps, but it was only in the final minutes of the late afternoon session that times really began to drop, as the temperature began to do the same. Five riders ducked under the 1m50s barrier, but it was Michel who was fastest today, with a best time of 1m49.1s, recorded for the very last lap that he made on track, seconds before the session’s end.

Also present at the track, as a guest of Ducati, was Tyson Beckford, the American top model who, having taken part in the Ducati DRE riding course at Misano this morning, wanted to pop in at Imola to say hello to Michel and the Ducati Xerox Team.

Michel Fabrizio Speaks…

"I am happy but also pretty tired! Imola’s a track I really like, even though it still needs to be resurfaced. It’s in the same state as it was in 2006, but now has this new chicane which is causing some controversy. If they move the wall back as they say they will in time for the race it will at least lessen the danger. Anyway, back to today. We’ve been able to get a lot of useful work done, trying things that we haven’t had time to look out so far during the season. We’ve worked on set-ups and sorting out the traction control system. We didn’t try Pirelli’s new tyres until the end of the afternoon, and I only had time to try one, but it was the right one evidently as, with the drop in temperature later in the day, I was able to record the fastest time. There are only five races left now so we have to get serious and push harder than ever. The Imola race will be interesting, as we’ve seen a much stronger Honda outfit here today."

Davide Tardozzi Speaks…

"We’re extremely satisfied with Michel’s performance today, he’s worked very hard despite the difficult conditions. We’re sorry Nori could not participate too but right now it’s more important that he gets back in the best possible shape in time for next week’s Brno round. Noriyuki’s race engineer Ernesto Marinelli is here anyway to acquire important data prior to the September race."

TIMES (Day 1): 1. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 1m49.1s; 2. Spies (Yamaha) 1m49.2s; 3. Rea (Honda) 1m49.6s; 4. Xaus (BMW) 1m49.8s; 5. Checa (Honda) 1m49.8s; 6. Byrne (Ducati) 1m50.3s; 7. Sykes (Yamaha) 1m50.4s; 8. Haslam (Honda) 1m50.5s

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