Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Noriyuki Haga, right, leads Max Neukirchner around the Phillip Island circuit in the first race of the day.
Noriyuki Haga, right, leads Max Neukirchner around the Phillip Island circuit in the first race of the day.

Haga saves his best for race day

The Japanese rider takes a 45 point haul in the opening round of the 2009 FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island.

PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA // Noriyuki Haga shrugged off a poor qualifying performance to claim the early lead of the 2009 FIM Superbike World Championship after a near-perfect display at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia. The Ducati Xerox ace won the first race of the day from 13th on the grid and nearly repeated the trick in the second only to miss out by just over a second after being held off by Yamaha's Ben Spies, who claimed his first WSB victory.

Haga's double podium puts him top of the embryonic championship standings with 45 points, 15 clear of Suzuki Alstare's Max Neukirchner who also recovered from a lowly starting position to finish second in race one before taking sixth in race two. The first race got under way amid the threat of rain but mercifully the heavens only delivered a light shower in the closing laps. By then the Superpole winner Spies had already thrown away his advantage as he sailed off on the second corner. The American regained the track but the damage had been done and he limped home 16th at the flag.

That left Haga to make his way through the pack, the Japanese picking off riders with ease before beating Neukirchner in a thrilling run to the flag that saw the German relinquish the victory after making an error on the final lap. Neukirchner's teammate Yukio Kagayama claimed third while Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) was fourth. Max Biaggi, who started second on the grid in Aprilia's first race in the series for seven years, dropped to 11th at the flag. "I'm very happy for the win, I have just switched to Ducati, I already had four crashes with the bike, but our team did a great job," Haga said. "In the last two laps it started to rain a bit then on the last lap Max passed me but I put big pressure on him thinking where to pass him. He made a mistake and I won." The second race was no less dramatic with Spies managing to keep the bike on the island for the opening lap before embarking on a race-long tussle with Haga which ended in the rookie's favour when the Ducati's tyres went away allowing the American through. The British rider Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda) was hugely impressive on his way to third place, ahead of Ducati duo Regis Laconi (DFX) and Fabrizio. Biaggi's miserable day was completed when he slid out of third place late on.

"The second race was really tough, we had a couple of goes in the lead and tried to break but couldn't do it so I sat and watched Nori," Spies said. "We were strong in the first half but really slow in the back two corners and I couldn't stay with him, then when the tyres went off we just went to the front with four to go and I put my head down. "WSB is so tight, people don't understand how many fast riders there are here, and it was really great out there today." *PA Sport

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Seiichi Shimomura, centre, is part of a Japan squad that is the gold standard for sides such as the UAE, here in a Asian Five Nations rugby match at Dubai on May 10, 2013 and Singapore aspire to reach. Marwan Naamani / AFP

UAE and Singapore are rugby teams with a similar tale to tell

The UAE versus Singapore in rugby: a battle to see whether our expatriates are better than their expatriates, surely? Well, maybe not for much longer.

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 Sharjah Cricket Stadium's colorful past was never like this – the IPL match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils was loud, raucous and commerical. Pawan Singh / The National

No need for rose-coloured glasses when Sharjah Cricket Stadium host IPL

Sharjah still plays well as India's home away from home when it comes to big-time cricket, but the commercial overtones were in overdrive.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.

 Mickael Barzalona riding Sudden Wonder, left, to victory in the Tattersalls Millions Trophy at Newmarket racecourse on April 17, 2014 in Newmarket, England. Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images

Godolphin boosted by performances of two fresh horses at Newmarket

Be Ready underwhelms in Craven Stakes during otherwise successful day for stables


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National