Noriyuki Haga and his Ducati Xerox squad this afternoon celebrated their first pole of the season at the Nurburgring circuit. Quick in every session so far, the Japanese rider exited for the Superpole with a steely determination, to register the fastest time in each of the three phases. The track temperature was significantly higher (26°C) than it had been in the morning and fortunately for the Superbike riders the all-important Superpole took place in dry conditions. Despite such a long career, this is only the seventh time that Haga has taken the pole and it came at just the right moment, with only four rounds of the championship left to run. After the physical problems he has suffered over the last two months, this result demonstrates that Nitro-Nori is back in shape and ready to fight for the world title. Team-mate Michel Fabrizio is also on the pace this weekend and, despite an error during his fast lap in the final Superpole session, he nevertheless secured a place on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s races, fourth behind the two Hondas of Rea and Haslam.
The Superbike riders also escaped rain in the morning’s second qualifying session and so lap times dropped considerably with respect to yesterday. Fourth and fifth at the end of play yesterday, the Ducati Xerox men Michel and Noriyuki today made the progress that both had envisaged, qualifying easily for the afternoon Superpole session. Noriyuki was the fastest rider on track while Michel was two tenths of a second behind in third, Yamaha’s Ben Spies closing in second.
Noriyuki Haga 1m55.4s
“You can see that I’m back in shape after the holidays and I’m very happy to have taken the pole today. It’s my first pole position with Ducati and it comes just at the right time, as the championship reaches the final stages. I’ve been feeling comfortable on the bike all weekend and this bodes well for tomorrow. I like the track a lot and, having gone well here last year, I’m looking forward to racing.”
Michel Fabrizio 1m55.9s
“I am fairly happy with the result; it’s just a shame I made a small mistake on the last corner because I think if I had nailed that I could have finished second or third. Anyway the important thing is that I’m starting from the front row and I am more than ready to fight for the win tomorrow. I predict a close battle between us on the Ducatis and the two Hondas.”