Noriyuki Haga is refusing to rule himself out of victory contention ahead of the pivotal final two rounds of the World Superbike Championship in Portugal, but admits he is running out of time to sort the set-up problems on his Ducati Xerox.
The championship leader will start down in tenth position in Portimao after failing to progress beyond the second qualification phase, the Japanese rider complaining that he cannot get the bike to turn in sufficiently around the corners of the challenging Algarve circuit.
Struggling through the final sector in particular, while Haga says he was happier with the bike on the qualifying tyres, he concedes he will need to use the short warm-up session as a last chance to sort the 1198 out.
“The problem is that all day today I've had trouble turning and, at the same time, I'm not happy with the level of rear grip,” he said. “We used the two qualifying tyres in the second Superpole session and they gave me better grip but didn't help me to move the bike into the corners any more easily.
“So I'm consistently losing time in the final split and that's the real problem. We must change something for tomorrow so I'm talking to my engineer and we'll see tomorrow morning if we've found a solution that will enable me to fight for the race and title wins.”
With Spies – who can guarantee himself the title with a double victory - on pole position with a record-breaking lap, Haga accepts that he is at a 'disadvantage'.
Nonetheless, having established a reputation as a racer, rather than a qualifier, Haga reminds that he has won races from less favourable positions in the past.
“Of course it is a disadvantage to be on the third row of the grid but I've won races from that position in the past and I know that anything can happen on race day.“