Team-mates Noriyuki Haga and Troy Corser will battle for second in the 2008 world championship during their final WSBK appearance for Yamaha in this weekend's season finale at the brand new Portimao circuit.
Seven-time 2008 race winner Haga will start the 14th and final round with a slim nine-point advantage over Corser. Haga has spent the last four successive seasons at Yamaha, but the Portuguese event will mark his final R1 ride before replacing triple champion Troy Bayliss at Ducati Xerox in 2009.
"Portimao is a new circuit which I have never ridden. We planned to test last week but unfortunately that test was cancelled so we will start from scratch. Anyway, this is the last race of the year so I would like to finish well, for me and especially for our team," said Nori, runner-up in the 2007 championship.
"This season we have all tried and worked really hard and we had both good and bad days. This is the last race for us so I will try extra hard to get good results for Yamaha, my team and our supporters. I will send 'Kando' to every race fan and all my supporters until the end of my last race with Yamaha," he vowed.
Corser faces his last chance to claim a Yamaha victory after nearly two seasons of trying, but his consistency means he remains well within striking distance of Haga - 50 points are still up for grabs – and holds a useful 18 point lead over fourth placed Max Neukirchner.
Corser, a double World Superbike champion, will ride for the new BMW team next season.
"I'm looking forward to this weekend and I'll be going all out to get one or two of those wins we have been trying to take all year," said the Australian, who has taken twelve podiums so far this year (Haga has eleven). "It will be very interesting riding at an all-new track that maybe only one or two of the other guys have ridden at before. Most others, like us, have not been there to test. I don't know anything about the circuit at all but we are in the same position as we were in at Miller in America this year. That was a completely new track for us as well."
The Portimao track contains many blind corner entries and sudden changes of elevation to challenge the WSBK stars.
"The track is all new for us but we know the bike has a very good level of performance," said Yamaha Motor Italia team manager Massimo Meregalli. "We haven't tested at Portimao but this is the same for almost everybody so it's not an issue. We are confident we can find a good set-up for the race weekend. Our bike and riders have been very good in the last few races, and we all know what we can do. We are ready to race, like always. Our bikes have been refreshed for the Portimao race but there won't be anything new in the set-up."
Ben Spies and Tom Sykes will replace Haga and Corser at Yamaha Italia next season.