Round 4 - Assen
Sunday Apr 26 2009Round 4 - Assen HAGA (DUCATI XEROX) BREAKS NINE YEAR ASSEN CURSE WITH RACE 2 TRIUMPH AT THE TT CIRCUIT
Assen (The Netherlands) Sunday 26th April: The Dutch crowds were witness to two spectacular Superbike races today at the historic TT circuit and Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox) followed up a second place finish in Race 1 with a brilliant victory in Race 2, his second win at this track after the first, achieved nine years back in the year 2000.
In Race 1 Ducati Xerox rider Noriyuki Haga did not made a brilliant start and spent the first laps playing catch up to Ben Spies and Max Neukirchner. Once the second-placed Suzuki rider was out of the way, after an unfortunate fall during lap six, Noriyuki was able to choose his moment carefully to pass Spies during the twelfth lap. He subsequently held on to the lead ahead of Spies and Englishman Haslam until the very last lap when the American executed a well-timed pass that left Nitro-Nori with no time to retaliate, meaning that man in red Haga just missed on victory by a tenth of a second.
Meanwhile Noriyuki’s team-mate Michel lost a few positions due to a not particularly fast start and although he made up a few places by mid-race, the ensuing close battle between himself, Smrz, Rea and Laconi made things tough and Fabrizio thus concluded Race 1 in ninth position.
In Race 2 Noriyuki got off to a flying start and went straight to the head of the pack, a fraction of a second behind Spies, who passed the leader’s baton on to Haga during the second lap when he highsided in spectacular fashion and was thus forced to retire from the race. Haga then ran a lonely race up front, with team-mate Fabrizio and Honda rider Haslam fighting behind him for the second and third positions. Unfortunately Michel, who held off fourth-placed Smrz for the majority of the race, began to have problems getting his 1198 into gear during the final laps and eventually this meant that he just lost out on third, having to settle for a fourth place finish.
Noriyuki’s performance today means that he has further increased his championship lead, with 180 points and a 60 point advantage over second-placed Spies. The manufactures championship continues to be led by Ducati with 180 points, ahead of Yamaha with 145. Noriyuki Haga
(Race 1 – 2nd, Race 2 - winner)
"It’s been a great day for us and after nine years I have finally won again at Assen; I am very happy. In Race 1 I was a little disappointed to just lose out on the win on the very last lap but it was a great race. I set off strong but Spies and Haslam rode so hard today. First I had to push hard to catch Spies which was quite difficult as my bike was still not working perfectly and then to hold the lead was not easy either as the two of them were breathing down my neck. We changed the setting of the bike slightly for Race 2 and I was extremely comfortable on it. I’m sorry that Ben fell as I think we would have had another good battle but for me and my team it’s been a very good day. I thank my engineer, my team, Ducati and the sponsors and now we head to Monza for the next challenge.” Michel Fabrizio
(Race 1 – 9th, Race 2 - 4th)
“I am of course very disappointed as I did my utmost to be on the podium here today. I had to grit my teeth in both of today’s races as I was once again having problems with my forearm. In the last few laps I was having trouble changing gear and this then forced me to slow in the last lap, which meant that Smrz passed me at the final corner. I guess that, looking on the positive side, it’s a good thing it happened at the end of the last lap because at least I was able to finish the race and take important points. These things happen and we look ahead to Monza. After recent testing there I’m sure my team will work hard to give me a winning bike for the next round and I hope to be able to celebrate a win with them there.” RESULTS: Race 1
– 1. Spies (Yamaha); 2. Haga
(Ducati Xerox); 3. Haslam (Honda). Race 2
- 1. Haga
(Ducati Xerox), 2. Haslam (Honda); 3. Smrz (Ducati) CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: Riders
– 1. Haga (Ducati Xerox) 180; 2. Spies (Yamaha) 120; 3. Haslam (Honda) 94; 4. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 80; 5. Neukirchner (Suzuki) 75; 6. Sykes (Yamaha) 70. Manufacturers
– Ducati 180; Yamaha 145; Honda 109; Suzuki 76; Aprilia 68; BMW 43; Kawasaki 10