Having spent the last weeks making long-haul trips to Africa and America, the Ducati Xerox squad can now enjoy a local trip, from Bologna as far as the Italian Adriatic Coast, for the eighth round of the World Superbike championship, taking place this weekend at the Misano World Circuit.
The “home” track for Ducati in recent years, with the absence of Imola from the Superbike calendar, the Misano circuit generally also proves to be the hottest appointment of the season. Five different riders finished on the World Circuit podium in 2008, with then Ducati riders Bayliss, Xaus and Biaggi among them. This year’s Ducati Xerox factory riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio will be looking to reaffirm the strength of the Ducati Superbikes on home turf, with Noriyuki planning to return to form and strengthen his lead and Michel hopeful that two positive results can see him regain second position in the championship standings.
At the last round held in America two weeks ago, of the two Ducati Xerox riders it was Michel to come away with the most points, doing exactly what he set out to do and improving on his results of last year at the Miller Motorsports track by taking a second and a third place finish. Noriyuki meanwhile struggled and suffered his least successful weekend of 2009 to date with an eighth and a ninth place finish.
With half of the 2009 Superbike races now completed, Noriyuki holds 38 more points than last year’s leader, former Ducati Xerox rider Bayliss, held at the mid-way point and also has a greater points advantage over the second placed rider at this stage. If he makes the podium of both of Misano’s races, he will reach obtain the 100th podium finish of his Superbike career. Michel has already collected 201 championship points this year, compared to the 106 he held at this point in 2008. There is however still a long way to go, as Noriyuki and Michel both realise, and the key to success is clearly consistency.
Last year’s Misano podium finisher, former Ducati Xerox rider and current World Champion Troy Bayliss will also be visiting Misano over the weekend in his role as Ducati ambassador, participating in signing sessions and assisting with prize-giving duties.
Noriyuki Haga (1st in championship, 265 points)
This weekend will be Noriyuki’s tenth World Superbike event at Misano and the 34-year old Japanese rider is determined to bounce back after the somewhat disappointing results of Salt Lake.
“The Misano track is very small and tricky with high-speed corners that require aggressive braking. I prefer the new layout but it remains nonetheless a difficult track for me, I don’t really know why. It’s always so hot there too, so the tyre choice really comes into play. Anyway, it will be good to be back in front of the Italian crowds, Misano has been the “home” race for Ducati in the last years so I’m sure it’ll be crowded with Ducatisti! After a crash and the less than perfect results at the last round of Salt Lake, I plan to be back on form and fighting to win at Misano.”
Haga’s Superbike form at Misano:
2008: Race 1 – 10th, Race 2 – 4th
2007: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 2nd
2006: Race 1 – 5th, Race 2 – 3rd
2005: Race 1 – 6th, Race 2 – 6th
2004: Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 4th
2002: Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 3rd
2000: Race 1 – 7th, Race 2 – DNF
1999: Race 1 – 8th, Race 2 – DNF
1998: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – DNF
Michel Fabrizio (3rd in championship, 201 points)
Michel has not had an easy time of it at this Italian track in the last three years; this needs to change in 2009.
“Misano is not one of my favourite tracks as I’ve had a lot of bad luck there over the years and have never been able to get strong results. Having said that, the support of the fans there is always huge so I hope that this season they will spur me on to achieve my best ever Misano results! I’m back in third place in the championship but, after Salt Lake, me and Ben are extremely close now so I’ll be looking to bring home as many points as possible from the track this weekend.”
Fabrizio’s Superbike form at Misano:
2008: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 11th
2007: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – DNF
2006: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 6th
Country: Republic of San Marino
Name: Misano World Circuit
Circuit length: 4.226 km
Pole position: left
Corners left: 6
Corners right: 10
Race distance: 24 laps = 101.424 km
LAP RECORDS: Fastest lap – Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1’36.022 (2007); Superpole – Corser (Yamaha) 1’34.948 (2007).
2008 RESULTS: Race 1 – 1. Neukirchner (Suzuki); 2. Corser (Yamaha); 3. Bayliss (Ducati Xerox). Race 2 – 1. Xaus (Ducati); 2. Biaggi (Ducati); 3. Bayliss (Ducati Xerox)