Factory Ducati star and 2009 World Superbike title runner-up Noriyuki Haga was impressed by the pace of privateer 1198 riders Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne, after finishing between the Althea riders at the end of the Valencia test.
Having sat out Wednesday due to pouring rain and cold temperatures, Haga and team-mate Michel Fabrizio got in half a day of useful track time on Thursday afternoon.
Haga left the test with a best lap time of 1min 34.0sec, 0.6sec under his own official race-lap record from the 2009 event, but 0.2sec slower than Checa and just 0.1sec faster than Byrne.
“Unfortunately [Wednesday] was a total loss due to the wet, cold conditions but today we were able to ride all afternoon,” confirmed the Japanese. “We continued with the work started at Portimao, testing suspension settings and various tyre compounds. I also tried a new clutch which seemed to perform well, and my lap times were fairly fast seeing as it was extremely cold.
“I'd say we're very happy, although we've seen that the privateer Ducatis of Checa and Byrne were also very fast so I guess the first race of the season will be very interesting; I can't wait to race!” he declared.
Fabrizio's best lap was half a second slower than Haga, but the Italian feels 'we're back on track'.
“We haven't been very lucky with the weather, with rain both here and in Portimao. But it's all gone really well today, bearing in mind that it was for us the first, and last, day,” stated Fabrizio, who won his first WSBK races in 2009. “We found a good pace and are pretty satisfied with the lap times. It was a bit difficult to evaluate the [new rear] tyres well in these conditions but, all in all, it went a lot better for us than it did at Portimao and I feel like we're back on track.”
The Ducati Xerox team will next be on track at Phillip Island in Australia, for a test session and then the race weekend.