Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) completed two extremely impressive World Superbike races at the Imola circuit on Sunday; starting from the fourth row of the grid, the Japanese rider carved his way through the field lap after lap.
A great day for Ducati that dominated Race 1, with Haga accompanied on the podium by a faultless Carlos Checa and a “reborn” Lorenzo Lanzi, before securing the top two spots in Race 2 with Checa, who scores his first double win with his 1198, and a competitive and determined Haga.
Noriyuki made up a lot of ground off the line, in ninth after the first lap. A drop in the performance of some of the frontrunners, in the second half of the race, allowed the Japanese rider to catch first Tom Sykes and then Jakub Smrz, putting him fourth.
On the final lap Noriyuki moved into third position and secured a podium spot when Leon Haslam ran off track while trying to get past Checa.
Michel Fabrizio, having lost a couple of positions at the start, had difficulty with the rear of the bike, that moved around excessively. He continued to make progress throughout the 21-lap race however, to close in seventh position.
On a warmer track, Noriyuki was again able to make rapid progress, making up eleven places in nine laps. The Japanese rider never gave up, passing Max BIaggi, Tom Sykes before going after Carlos Checa who had already built up a significant advantage.
Haga did all he could but the Spanish rider only increased his pace, to take his first double win on board the 1198.
Michel, having made a better start than in Race 1, did well in the initial stages and was fifth by the seventh lap. The smoke generated when Leon Haslam suffered a technical problem just in front of Michel, caused the latter to run off track and lose three positions. Although the Roman rider quickly made those places back up, he unfortunately found neutral through the Acque Minerali which caused him to run wide and lose the front, putting an end to his race.
The points gained by Ducati today project the Borgo-Panigale based manufacturer into second position in the manufacturers championship.
Haga remains sixth in the riders classification, one point behind Cal Crutchlow, while Michel Fabrizio goes up to ninth.
Noriyuki Haga says: “It wasn’t easy and I’m really happy to have reached the podium twice, even if I couldn’t win today. At this track the first corner is particularly narrow and that can make the first lap pretty dangerous but I got through it and made up some positions there, and then found a good rhythm in both races which meant I could start to catch up, finally reaching third, and then second.”
“Of course it would have been even better to win but I would have needed a few more laps in order to do that. My congratulations go to Carlos, Lorenzo and Cal as they all rode extremely well, especially Carlos. A Ducati 1,2,3 and then a 1,2 ¬- I’d say we can all be happy with that.”
Michel Fabrizio says: “Of course I wanted to do better on Ducati’s home track. In race 1 I was able to make up some places but the feeling I had with the bike got gradually worse and I didn’t have the necessary pace in the second half of the race. In race 2 I was confident and had good feeling but when Haslam had that problem, I also ran off track, losing ground. An error on the 14th lap caused me to crash and unfortunately I was unable to get back on.”
World Superbike Imola Results: Race 1 – 1. Checa (Ducati); 2. Lanzi (Ducati); 3. Haga (Ducati Xerox). Race 2 – 1. Checa (Ducati); 2. Haga (Ducati Xerox); 3. Crutchlow (Yamaha)
World Superbike Point Standings:
Riders – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia) 413; 2. Haslam (Suzuki) 350; 3. Rea (Honda) 288; 4. Checa (Ducati) 274; 5. Crutchlow (Yamaha) 239; 6. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 238; 7. Toseland (Yamaha) 187; 8. Guintoli (Suzuki) 184; 9. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 169; 10. Corser (BMW) 165
Manufacturers – Aprilia 433; Ducati 392; Suzuki 379; Yamaha 307; Honda 305; BMW 201; Kawasaki 100