TWO SECONDS MOVE HAGA UP IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Two second places at today’s German round of the Superbike World Championship saw Yamaha Motor Italia’s Noriyuki Haga move back into second place in the series.

Despite suffering a wrist injury in Saturday’s free practice session, the Japanese star was able to lead both races and scored more points than any other rider at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz circuit. In the day’s first race Haga made a good start and followed championship leader Troy Bayliss (Ducati) in the opening laps. When the Australian made an error, the Yamaha rider led a four-way battle for the lead with Yamaha Motor Italia team-mate Andrew Pitt and the Suzukis of Troy Corser and Yukio Kagayama. Pitt eventually slipped back to fourth as a result of an incorrect tyre choice, while Kagayama was able to pass the Yamaha as Haga’s front tyre grip deteriorated in the closing stages.

Race two saw the same protagonists at the front but Pitt, now running the same specification tyres as the other front men, was an early casualty when he crashed on lap four. The Australian had been sitting comfortably with the leading pack, only to be pitched off in a lowside crash when his bike’s footpeg touched the raised kerbing. That left James Toseland (Honda) in the lead with Haga breathing down his neck for the entire duration of the race. Despite his best efforts, the Yamaha rider could not find a way through and took the chequered flag two-tenths of a second behind the Briton.

Yamaha Motor France’s Norick Abe brought his YZF-R1 home in 11th place in race two, with team-mate Shinichi Nakatomi gaining another point for 15th. The points provided some reward for the squad, who had a disappointing first race with neither rider scoring a point due to a poor choice of tyres.

Today’s results mean that Haga moves back to second in the championship, 87 points behind series leader Bayliss with two rounds and four races remaining. Toseland is the only other rider with a mathematical chance of the title, a further six behind Haga, although Pitt’s failure to score sees him surrender one place in the championship. The Yamaha man is now fifth in the series, although only one point behind Corser. Haga’s forty points also saw Yamaha close in on Ducati at the head of the manufacturers championship. The Iwata company is now just 37 points behind their Italian rivals with a maximum of 100 available in the four remaining races.

The penultimate round of the championship takes place at the Imola circuit in Italy on 1 October.

 

Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia)
“I am happy with the result because yesterday I hurt my wrist and was in a lot of pain. The doctors gave me some painkillers and I actually enjoyed both races, because there were some good fights. In the first race I was able to lead but in the last five laps my front tyre was gone and I could not do anything when Yuki passed me. We made some changes for the second and I was able to fight with James, although he rode very well and I could not pass him. Still, I am satisfied and I would like to thank all the medical staff who helped me get such good results today.”

Andrew Pitt (Yamaha Motor Italia)
“For the first race we chose a different rear tyre to most of the other guys and after ten laps it was gone and I had to settle for fourth. It had been a bit of a gamble, but the temperatures were higher than yesterday and we felt it might give us an advantage. We made a few changes for the second race and used the same tyres as the other guys. I felt really strong and was able to pass Kagayama and catch up to the leaders when I just touched the kerb with my footrest. That caused the weight to come off the back and I just slid off. I tried to get going again but the handlebar was broken off. I’m disappointed but the fact that Barros and Corser didn’t score many points has limited the damage and I know that we will bounce straight back in Imola.”

Norick Abe (Yamaha Motor France)

“We had a lot of small problems in race one so it was hard to ride and I couldn’t even get a point. Between the races we changed the bike balance by raising the rear and it was much better than race one. My lap times were much better and I kept them better all the way to the end, so I am quite happy.”

Shinichi Nakatomi (Yamaha Motor France)
“I like the track but it was impossible to get the right setting, lots of bumps and tyre spinning. Between race one and race two I changed the settings but it did not make so much difference.”

Massimo Meregalli (Team Coordinator – Yamaha Motor Italia)

“The first race was very good for us, with both riders taking points from Toseland in the championship. We came here with the target of getting second and third in the championship by the end of the year, but now Andrew has dropped to fifth. Overall, though, we can leave here with many positives. The championship is still alive and Noriyuki had scored a lot of points despite his injury. Andrew was a little unlucky but has ridden well and I am sure that both our riders will be able to continue fighting at the front in Imola.”

Martial Garcia (Team Manager – Yamaha Motor France)

“We got a little bit lost because it was a long distance for the tyres to last, so we changed the settings for the second race and Norick could fight for tenth position after that. We have improved after the test here because we lost a lot around here at that time, and we have made it up a lot. I think this track is very delicate for set-up. I am happy – no crashes, some points and now ready for Imola.”

 

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