Ducati Xerox rider Noriyuki Haga returned to the World Superbike podium, with a third place finish in Race 1 at the Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, a significant result as it is the first time that he has finished in the top three on this particular track.
In Race 1 neither Noriyuki nor Michel made a great start. After the first lap Noriyuki was lying in sixth position when Michel unexpectedly fell, losing the rear and thus closing his race almost immediately.
Haga pushed on to arrive in fifth position, just behind Leon Camier and Leon Haslam; he remained in this position until the eighteenth lap when he was finally able to pass Camier.
During the same lap race leader Carlos Checa’s bike came to a stop. Noriyuki moved up to third and held this position to the line.
The podium finish is significant for Haga as in the last two years he had never managed to close in the top three on this particular track.
The Ducati Xerox riders did not have an easy start to the second race either. Ruben Xaus touched Noriyuki’s bike right off the line which caused him to lose positions and precious time, while Michel found himself in fourteenth position at the end of the first lap.
During lap six Haga got past Rea and, following the retirement of both Checa and Haslam from the race, he moved up to fifth, with Fabrizio in twelfth.
Haga pushed hard, catching and passing Corser on the BMW in the closing stages.
Even though his pace was still strong, time did not allow the Japanese rider to catch Crutchlow, meaning he had to settle for a final fourth position.
At the end of the seventh round, Noriyuki is now fifth in the general standings with 135 points, while team-mate Michel is tenth (102 points). Ducati is still third in the manufacturers standings with 214 points.
Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – 4th) says: "I’m really happy to be back on the podium today, but it wasn’t easy! At the start of Race 1 I was having trouble pushing but after a few laps the tyres picked up a bit and I was finally able to get past Camier in the final stages. It’s a great result and the first time I’ve been on the Miller podium. In Race 2 I had a similar feeling with my bike but the race was more difficult. I started badly and had to push so hard to make up the lost ground. In the last two years my weekends at Miller have been conditioned by crashes but this year I had a good feeling right from the first exit I made on Friday and this gave me confidence that a podium was possible. I’m satisfied and now we move on to Misano, a circuit where there is no long straight and where the Ducati could be very fast."
Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – DNF , Race 2 – 9th) says: "It’s a pity what happened to me in race 1. It was totally unexpected, my bike was sliding around at the rear and then, from one moment to the next, I found myself on the ground. In Race 2 I made a bad start, losing several positions and finding myself in the last group. I made up ground through the race but I wasn’t able to catch Rea and Byrne ahead of me and finished ninth. I hoped to do a lot better here in America but now we must turn our attention to the next round in Misano."
RESULTS: Race 1 – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia); 2. Haslam (Suzuki); 3. Haga (Ducati Xerox). Race 2 – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia); 2. Camier (Aprilia); 3. Crutchlow (Yamaha)
CLASSIFICATION: Riders – 1. Biaggi (257); 2. Haslam (Suzuki) 242; 3. Rea (Honda) 151; 4. Checa (Ducati) 141; 5. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 135; 6. Toseland (Yamaha) 132; 7. Corser (BMW) 127; 8. Camier (Aprilia) 115; 9. Crutchlow (Yamaha) 107; 10. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 102
Manufacturers- Aprilia 263; Suzuki 252; Ducati 214; Honda 162; Yamaha 158; BMW 130; Kawasaki 45