Portimao (Portugal), Sunday 28th March: Racing at Portimao today proved difficult for the Ducati Xerox riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, who had to fight hard for points, having started the races from the fifth row of the grid; the two races brought identical results for the factory riders, two eighth place finishes for Nori, two 11th places for Michel.
In the morning warm-up Noriyuki had picked up his pace with respect to yesterday, completing eight fast laps and concluding the short session in third position. Michel, still working to improve grip, finished in fifteenth place.
Portimao SBK Race 1
Both riders were aware that they needed a blistering start in order to help their chances of carving their way through the pack from the fifth row, and Nori was able to do this in Race 1, rocketing from eighteenth to ninth position straight off the line. Michel, caught up in traffic, remained in sixteenth position for the first lap but had worked his way up to twelfth by lap two. During the fifth lap Haga was able to pass Corser and on the same lap team-mate Fabrizio passed Corser’s team-mate Xaus.
From mid-race on, and now in eighth position, Noriyuki remained there, with Corser and Toseland chasing him down, until three laps from the finish where he briefly moved up to seventh place before Toseland, on the very last lap, pushed him back down to a final eighth position. In the second half of the race, Michel made a couple of mistakes, going off track twice and allowing both Smrz and Xaus to take advantage and move ahead of him. Smrz later crashed but Michel was unable to catch Xaus, thus closing the first race in eleventh place.
Portimao SBK Race 2
The Ducati Xerox pair made a carbon copy start, with Noriyuki slicing through the pack from eighteenth to ninth position and Michel in sixteenth. The Italian then made up five positions within the first three laps before tucking in, in eleventh position, behind team-mate Haga.
The two Ducati 1198s had trouble catching the Suzuki of Guintoli, and although Nori closed the gap two-third of the way through the race, getting past Corser in the process, he didn’t manage to pass the Frenchman, and make it stick, until the very last lap, to take eighth position overall, exactly as he did in race 1. Although Michel held eleventh position from lap 8 right until the end of the race, he lost a little ground to Nori in the final laps, citing difficulty in braking.
Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 8th , Race 2 – 8th)
"We’ve worked hard all weekend and today finally I had slightly better feeling with the bike but it was very difficult to score great results from the fifth row. In race 1 I made a good start, which I knew was essential if I wanted to make some good points. I tried to push as hard as possible but by the last five laps or so I was lacking rear grip and this meant that my traction was very much affected."
"The second race was quite similar, the tyre performed better but I had a hard time getting past Guintoli, and again finished eighth. I apologise to the team, the fans and the sponsors for my poor results but at least I was able to make up a few positions and take some points. Now we look to start challenging for the podium every weekend from Valencia onwards. The important thing is not to crash, and to take as many points as possible each race. Biaggi and Haslam have demonstrated their strength both here and at Phillip Island and we hope we can be back up there on the podium at Valencia."
Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – 11th , Race 2 -11th)
"Let’s say that this weekend we were not able to refine the set up of my 1198 as we had hoped to. I continued to have the same problem, the same lack of feeling at the front, in both races. We made many modifications over the weekend but it didn’t make much difference; I just never felt right on the bike."
"At the start of race 2 I managed to make up a few places straight away by pushing as hard as I could but after a few laps it became more and more difficult to turn; I went off track a couple of times in race 1 and then I went straight two or three times in the next race. We of course hope for much better results at Valencia, where I need to start from the front rows."
WSBK Portimao Results
Race 1 – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia); 2. Haslam (Suzuki); 3. Rea (Honda).
Race 2 – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia); 2. Haslam (Suzuki); 3. Crutchlow (Yamaha)
WSBK Riders Points
1. Haslam (Suzuki) 85; 2. Biaggi (Aprilia) 69; 3. Checa (Ducati) 60; 4. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 46; 5. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 43; 6. Rea (Honda) 39; 7. Guintoli (Suzuki) 33; 8. Camier (Aprilia) 32….
Suzuki 85; Ducati 71; Aprilia 69; Honda 40; Yamaha 32; BMW 29; Kawasaki 7