Noriyuki Haga says he has not had his progress stymied by his shoulder injury after qualifying a provisional fifth – and out pacing key rival Ben Spies – during World Superbike qualifying at the Nurburgring.
Returning to the scene of his famous double triumph in 2008, achieved despite a broken collarbone, Haga shrugged off his latest ailment to claim the quickest time during free practice before going on to prove similarly competitive in qualifying.
More than a second quicker than Spies, Haga was pleased to last the day without having to encounter longevity issues, the championship leader claiming a recent test at Mugello proved beneficial to him.
"I'm feeling fairly comfortable on the bike and the testing we did earlier this week in Mugello has definitely benefitted me because my shoulder is feeling a lot better and hasn't bothered me too much today in these cool conditions.
“During those tests we tried different set-ups and decided on the best path to follow this weekend. So far it's been going ok in the rain but of course we don't know how it will be tomorrow. I'm looking to ride in the dry on Sunday but it's impossible to predict.”
Still, Haga wasn't the quickest Ducati Xerox representative, with Michel Fabrizio getting ahead by three tenths in fourth place. Despite his wet weather form, the Italian is hoping for dry conditions when race day comes.
“I am fairly satisfied for now. It's always difficult in these unpredictable conditions but I guess the weekend will be conditioned by this type of weather. We've made good progress however and I hope I can further improve the feeling I have on the wet tomorrow morning, as we've already seen that several riders are going strong here in the rain.
“With the tyres we don't have much choice, only the soft compound gave me confidence and I made 23 laps on the same tyre to evaluate its wear. I hope for two dry races but even if it's wet I feel I'll be competitive.”