Magny-Cours (France), Sunday 4th October: an emotionally charged day for the Ducati Xerox Superbike Team that, with riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga, ran its final due World Superbike races this afternoon at the French circuit of Magny-Cours; Fabrizio gave his all to reward the team with one final podium, scoring a third place finish in Race 2, Haga coming home in fifth.
Wolrd SBK race one was challenging for both of the Ducati Xerox riders. Michel made a good start, up in third after the first corners; the first half of his race consisted of a battle for the top three places against Max Biaggi, Cal Crutchlow and Sylvain Guintoli.
Fabrizio held third place until the fifteenth lap, after which Carlos Checa and Leon Haslam, lying in fourth and fifth respectively, picked up their pace, managing to get past Michel who was by that point struggling with a lack of front grip.
The Italian rider continued to push until the very end but ultimately had to be satisfied with sixth position. Noriyuki on the other hand lost a couple of positions off the line and struggled to catch faster riders ahead of him.
By mid-race he had regained some of the lost ground but there was already a three second gap between him and Jakub Smrz, ahead of him in seventh, and he was unable to catch the Czech rider who had a slightly faster pace. The Japanese rider closed Race 1 in seventh position.
Similar conditions in World SBK race two, with a track temperature of 30°C. Both Noriyuki and Michel got away well this time, lying in third and fourth place respectively by the end of the first lap.
When Cal Crutchlow got past both of them, Noriyuki lost some ground while Michel was able to maintain a strong pace, fighting against Sylvain Guintoli for the third podium spot for the best part of the race.
Fabrizio oscillated between third and fourth place until the last lap when a final attack on the French rider paid off; Michel crossed the line in third, a fraction of a second ahead of Guintoli.
Haga held fifth position from the third lap to the finish line, running a solitary race sandwiched between the leaders and chasing group.
At the end of the 2010 World Superbike Championship, Noriyuki finishes in sixth position in the riders classification, with 258 points, while Michel Fabrizio closes in eighth, having accumulated 195 points.
The team has celebrated victories at Valencia, Kyalami and Nurburgring and thanks also to these results, Ducati finishes second in the manufacturers championship, emphasizing the potential of the Ducati 1198.
The Magny-Cours Superbike races were the last for the Ducati Xerox factory team; as already communicated, Ducati will support satellite teams that participate in the 2011 SBK championship rather than run a factory outfit.
Over the last 22 years of World Superbike competition, Ducati has amassed 16 manufacturer’s titles, 13 rider’s titles and a total of 718 podiums, 291 of which race wins.
Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – 6th, Race 2 – 3rd) says: “The first race didn’t go as planned and front tyre wear gave me a lot of problems, preventing me from catching those ahead. In Race 2 I had a great battle with Guintoli. I was braking as hard and as late as possible in order to make up what I was losing on the straights and I had to attack for third right on the last lap.”
“Sylvain wanted the podium because it’s his home race but I wanted it for my team and to wrap up the last three years with the Ducati Xerox team in the best possible way. I thank Ducati, my entire team, the sponsors and the fans; this is our day and I’m going to enjoy it with my team.”
Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 7th, Race 2 – 5th) says: “I was expecting a much faster second race to tell the truth. In Race 1 I was having problems with the rear tyre and so I thought that the changes we made before the second race would improve the situation. But in Race 2 it was difficult to push because I didn’t have great balance.”
“Anyway, I want to thank my team. The guys have been absolutely fantastic, especially before yesterday’s Superpole and ahead of this morning’s warm-up when they performed miracles to prepare my bike in time. We close this chapter sadly but for the Ducati Xerox Team I have an incredible respect that I will always carry with me.”
Ernesto Marinelli says: “It has been a very special weekend and race day. In Race 2 I saw in Michel a determination that made me truly proud, proud not just of him but of the entire team, a unique group of people with whom I have had the honour to work for all these years.”
“To change a frame like they did this morning in 45 minutes or to repair a bike in under 30, is an achievement that can only be accomplished by extraordinary people, thanks to their professionalism, ability and coordination. The biggest thanks therefore goes to them, “thanks guys”.”
“Thanks also to Daniele Casolari and Feel Racing that has helped us along this journey full of successes, to Xerox for the six wonderful years of partnership, to Valsir, Shell, TIM and all the other sponsors that have supported us.”
WSBK RESULTS: Race 1 – 1. Crutchlow (Yamaha); 2. Haslam (Suzuki); 3. Checa (Ducati). Race 2 – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia); 2. Crutchlow (Yamaha); 3. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox)
WSBK CLASSIFICATION: Riders – 1. Biaggi (Aprilia) 451; 2. Haslam (Suzuki) 376; 3. Checa (Ducati) 297; 4. Rea (Honda) 292; 5. Crutchlow (Yamaha) 284; 6. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 258; 7. Guintoli (Suzuki) 197; 8. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 195; 9. Toseland (Yamaha) 187; 10. Byrne (Ducati) 169
World Superbike Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 471; 2. Ducati 424; 3. Suzuki 412; 4. Yamaha 352; 5. Honda 313; 6. BMW 201; 7. Kawasaki 113