Ducati has announced that both its factory World Superbike riders, Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, have been re-signed for the 2010 season.
After four years at Yamaha, Haga switched to Ducati for 2009 and stormed into a dominant title lead by finishing first or second in all but one of the opening twelve races.
But Haga, injured at Donington Park, hasn't won in the ten races since and finally lost the title lead to superstar rookie Ben Spies last time out in Germany. Haga starts the final three rounds of the season 18 points behind the American.
“I am very happy that this great team continues to believe in me!” said Haga, the most successful WSBK rider without a world title with 39 wins to his credit, six of them this season. “I thank Ducati, the team and everyone that was involved in making the decision. I have a great relationship with my team and with Michel, and so I am more than happy to stay here in 2010.
“We don't yet know how this year will end, but what is certain is that I will continue to do my best, as I do every weekend. Knowing that I have a job for next year will surely spur me on; I will give 200% in Imola this weekend, and then if that's not enough I'll redouble my efforts at Magny and Portimao!” insisted the 34-year-old.
Only four-time champion Carl Fogarty (59) and triple champion Troy Bayliss (52) have won more WSBK races than Haga.
Team-mate Fabrizio sits third in the championship, 75 points from Spies. The Italian took his first WSBK win earlier this year at Monza, but admits he could soon be riding to help Haga. 2010 will be Fabrizio's third year at Ducati Xerox.
“I'm very happy, I received confirmation of the renewal the day before my birthday and this news was a great end to the week,” said the 25-year-old. “I'm currently third in the championship and I'll continue to give my all in the final three rounds.
"At Imola I'm going to go on fighting my own battle, and then we'll see how Nori and I are placed... I'll perhaps change my strategy for the last two races, if need be, in order to assist Nori,” he confirmed.
“Next year I won't let anyone get ahead as quickly as Nori did this season and I'll be doing all I can to be near the top of the standings right from the start of the championship.”
“Nori and Michel are both racing, and bringing home extremely satisfying results, in what is a very close-fought championship and so Ducati is proud to be able to confirm them both for the 2010 season,” stated Ducati Corse general director Filippo Preziosi. "The experience they have accumulated this year will surely contribute to even stronger performances in the future."
Spies, who took Haga's place at Yamaha, is now rumoured to be moving to MotoGP next season, despite an earlier announcement that he would stay in WSBK for one more year.