This afternoon on the French track of Magny-Cours, Noriyuki Haga took a fantastic Race 2 win on board his Ducati 1198, coming straight after his second place finish in the first race. With these results, Noriyuki regains the championship lead with an advantage of ten points over Spies (Yamaha). At the end of this, the penultimate round, and thanks to today’s two podiums, Ducati celebrates winning its sixteenth Constructors title in the World Superbike Championship. This was not the only success of the day as this morning the Belgian rider Xavier Simeon and the Ducati Xerox Junior Team won both the riders and constructors titles in the Superstock 1000 championship.
A spectacular first race in which the two championship leaders Haga and Spies battled it out for the victory until the final corners of the last lap. For the first fifteen laps Noriyuki was hot on the heels of Biaggi but found it hard to get past him. Finally, during the sixteenth lap of twenty-three, he made his move and got ahead of Max to move into second position, immediately turning his attention to closing the gap of more than a second that had opened between himself and race leader Spies. On the very last lap Nori had caught the American and when the latter made a mistake entering a corner, Nori took the opportunity to get up alongside Ben but unfortunately he couldn’t hold the line into the next corner and so it was Spies on the Yamaha to cross the line first, just 0.181 of a second ahead of Haga. Fabrizio did not made a good start and then had to work to pass Haslam on the Honda. By the time he managed this, during the course of the fourth lap, the gap between himself and the leaders was already fairly large and it was impossible to catch up. Michel concluded the race in a solid fourth place, 5 seconds behind Biaggi and 11 seconds ahead of Haslam.
In Race 2 Noriyuki made a blazing start and after a few corners he got straight past Biaggi to take the race lead, closely followed by both Biaggi on the Aprilia and Rea on the Honda. Haga pushed hard from the start but was unable to shake the chasing pair. In this race however, it was the Japanese rider who was the stronger competitor and, aware of the importance of the points, he continued to push to ensure himself of the win, his eighth of the season. Fabrizio unfortunately fell on lap three, having erred while braking at the end of the straight. He managed to rejoin the race and subsequently made a good recovery, moving up from last position to thirteenth and thus gaining two points.
Noriyuki Haga (Race 1 – 2nd , Race 2 – winner)
In Race 1 I really enjoyed myself, it was a fantastic race. I didn’t make the best start and then it took a lot of laps before I was able to pass Max. Once I got past him I realized I didn’t have many laps left in which to catch Ben; if I’d had just one extra lap, I think I’d have won. On the last lap I was waiting for Ben to make a mistake and when he did so, I managed to get up alongside him but unfortunately the next corner worked in his favour and he got past me. Then, in the second race, we made some small changes to my bike and they worked, giving me more confidence. This victory is truly a great result as we have regained a small advantage. I am also extremely pleased that my results have awarded us the Constructors title. Thanks to Ducati and to my race engineer Ernesto Marinelli for giving me a great bike for Race 2; and to the whole Ducati Xerox team because my first year in Ducati is fantastic. Now we go to Portimao where Ben and I will fight for the 2009 title – I can’t wait.”
Michel Fabrizio (Race 1 – 4th , Race 2 – 13°)
“Obviously I’m very disappointed by my results today; I hoped to do a lot better. In Race 1 I wasn’t able to catch the leading group and finished in fourth which isn’t bad but I would have liked to be on the podium. My bad start in the second race conditioned the outcome, I tried to catch up quickly so as not to lose the leaders as I’d done in Race 1 but unfortunately I messed up my braking at the end of the straight and lost the front. I am very sorry because I think I could have got past Spies, giving Nori a couple more points. My compliments go to Nori because he was very strong today and deserved the win.”
Gabriele Del Torchio (President of Ducati)
“Today was a great sporting day for Ducati and the results demonstrate once again that technology, combined with the passion and determination of those who “never give up”, allow us to achieve important goals such as today’s victories. A big thank you to the entire factory and to everyone in Ducati Corse. Thanks to the Superbike team that gives us our sixteenth World title, and to the Junior Team that, for the third consecutive year, has won the Superstock 1000 Championship, confirming the technological supremacy of the Ducati 1198, a winner right from its debut. I would like to dedicate these victories to the entire family of Ducatisti, who, with their passion and enthusiasm, support us in our decisions and in our endeavours, whether the outcomes are good or bad. If we are World Champions, it is thanks to each and every one of them.”