Like it or not, team orders are a part of motorsport and - most feel - understandable when one rider is battling for a world championship that his team-mate no longer has a mathematical chance of winning.

Some might say it's the price a rider must be prepared to pay for scoring less points than their team-mate, with the same bike.

For Yamaha the situation heading into this weekend's penultimate round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship at Magny-Cours is clear - Ben Spies sits just three points behind title leader Noriyuki Haga while his team-mate Tom Sykes is only eighth and long ruled out of the title fight.

Unfortunately for Spies and Yamaha, Sykes has been unable to threaten Haga and third title contender Michel Fabrizio, making the question of team orders at Yamaha academic.

But Ducati faces a far more complicated problem.

Haga is by far their best chance of title success, with Fabrizio 61 points behind Haga, but with 100 points still undecided the young Italian has a clear mathematical chance - and, as proved by his race two victory over Haga at Imola, Fabrizio won't be backing off until he absolutely has to.

Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi looked less pleased than he might at a home double victory by his riders after race two on Sunday, prompting speculation that Fabrizio may have ignored team orders to claim only his second ever WSBK victory.

However, these are Fabrizio's words just a few days before Imola:

"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 stated.

That would seem to confirm that, despite Tardozzi's post-race reaction, there were no 'official' team orders at Imola, but could well be at at Magny-Cours or Portimao.

Heading into this weekend's race Fabrizio avoided the issue, talking only of aiming for the podium.

"I must admit I've never felt very comfortable at Magny-Cours and you can see this by looking at the results," he said. "This season, however, I've had some much better results and so will be looking to continue the trend with two more podium finishes in France."

Whilst disappointed with second in race two at Imola, Haga made no public complaint at being denied five points by his team-mate - during a rare off day for Spies. Unlike Fabrizio, Haga has an excellent Magny-Cours record and as such may need no help from Fabrizio this weekend.

"I like the track and over the last years I've had some fairly good results," confirmed Haga, who has finished first or second in the last five races held at Magny-Cours. "I really need to repeat the double win of 2007 again this season and will go all out to do just that. Imola gave us good points, enough to regain the lead, but we only have a three point advantage so this weekend is extremely important."

Perhaps the 'fairest' solution will be for Ducati to publically state exactly what the situation is regarding team orders for its riders - if, and when, they will be used - so that Spies, the fans, not to mention Haga and Fabrizio, know what to expect on track.


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