After two spectacular races, it was the Ducati Xerox team celebrating this afternoon after Noriyuki Haga and his Ducati 1198 stormed to victory in Race 1 and team-mate Michel Fabrizio repeated the feat in race 2. With a race victory apiece, as well as a second place finish for Haga in the second race, and third place for Michel in the first, the result couldn’t have been better for the Ducati Xerox Team at their home track. Noriyuki thus regains his championship lead with only two rounds to go.
A fantastic Race 1 saw Max Biaggi take the lead off the start line, closely followed by the Ducati men Michel and Noriyuki and Honda’s Jonathan Rea. Rea crashed out during the second lap, leaving the Ducati Xerox twosome to battle it out against Aprilia’s Biaggi. Haga got ahead on lap nine only to lose the lead again to Biaggi shortly after. In lap seventeen of twenty-one it was again the Japanese rider who led the pack, and it was he who reigned supreme, crossing the line first, ahead of Biaggi and Fabrizio who battled it out for second position until the final corner.
In Race 2 it was Michel who was fastest off the line and for the first two laps he led the pack, followed closely by his team-mate Noriyuki, Biaggi, Byrne and Spies. Noriyuki got past Michel on the third lap and from then on it became a Ducati showdown, Michel re-passing Nori mid way through the race to then hold the lead to the chequered flag, taking his second ever victory in front of Ducati’s home crowd. Haga crossed the line just 3.5 seconds behind Michel, making it a Ducati one-two, ahead of Simoncelli on the Aprilia who closed in third.
Today’s results, most importantly, take Noriyuki back into the lead in the overall championship standings. The 45 points he takes home from Imola take him up to 391 points, just 3 points ahead of Yamaha’s Ben Spies. Michel consolidates his third position, holding a total of 330 points.
Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 –winner , Race 2 – 2nd)
“It’s great to have won again, having not been in this position since Kyalami and having had some tough rounds after the Donington accident. It was a very long race, I thought it would never end, and with all that happened, I don’t even remember when I overtook Max! Over this weekend we have gradually improved and I am especially happy with the result because my father has travelled to Europe for the first time to see me race. For Race 2 I unfortunately had to go out on the second bike as we had problems with the first and we couldn’t get it fixed in time. It was a hard race and I am very tired at the end of it all. Congratulations to Michel in Race 2 of course and also to Marco (Simoncelli) and thanks to my engineer Ernesto, to my team and to Ducati. We are now back in the lead with a three point advantage but there are still four races to go so there’s still a fight ahead. We need the best possible bike for Magny-Cours and Portimao!”
Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – winner)
“What races! I really wanted a win today so I am extremely happy. In Race 1 the problem was that after just a few laps I was having problems with my left arm and it was hard to change gear, I had kind of cramps in my hand. By the end I was really hanging on by two fingers with no feeling in my arm. So all things considered third place was a good result. After the first race I got my trainer to do some work on my arm and it obviously did the trick because it wasn’t a problem in Race 2, and when I got past Noriyuki I knew I could win. I’m happy also for my son, who is here and always asks me why I don’t win more! Thanks to the whole team, to my trainer Leigh “Rok” Bryan, to Ducati, to Xerox and to the spectators who have been amazing this weekend. All of Ducati’s top management were here today too so I hope that our results demonstrate that Nori and me deserve to have had our contracts renewed for next year.”