Haga close to Xerox Ducati deal.

Noriyuki Haga is on the verge of being confirmed by Ducati Xerox as the replacement for Troy Bayliss in 2009.

Speculation as to who will replace the soon-to-retire Bayliss has been rife in recent months, but only now has the team reached an agreement with someone.

Although the deal will not been ratified until Yamaha have exhausted their attempts at retaining the Japanese rider, an announcement is due imminently.

The ever-popular Haga's arrival at Ducati is something of a surprise given his long-standing role as a 'halo-rider' in the Yamaha family, while Ducati were thought to be leaning towards either Max Biaggi or even Shane Byrne for 2009.

Nonetheless, Haga has already been given the seal of approval from Bayliss:

"I like Nori, he is a good guy," Troy told Radio. "It is easy for me to slip into the garage and get on with him."

Haga's only previous Ducati experience is on a customer-spec 999 run by the British-based Renegade team during 2004, when the Japanese rebuilt his reputation after a difficult season in MotoGP by claiming six race wins and a close third in the championship.

Those results helped secure a return to Yamaha - with whom Haga made his WSBK debut in 1998 and raced with until 2000 - for 2005, where he has remained ever since. Haga has taken 30 World Superbike victories and finished second in the championship in 2000 and 2007.

Meanwhile, Michel Fabrizio looks set to retain his place in the factory Ducati team but, as with Haga, his position is yet to be confirmed until an official announcement is made, possibly over the next couple of days.

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