Noriyuki Haga has apologised to both the Ducati Xerox team and his fans after finishing towards the bottom end of the top ten in both World Superbike races in Portugal.
A performance that was at odds with his pre-season title favourite status, Haga struggled for form throughout the weekend, even going as far to say he didn't like Portimao circuit after qualifying a lowly 18th.
As expected, Haga's trademark fast starts enabled him to forge his way into the top ten at the beginning of each race, but from there he failed to make significant progress up the order, the Japanese rider ending up with two eighth place finishes.
Indeed, Haga admits the results didn't live up to pre-event expectations, even if he maintains it was important for him to keep his points' tally ticking over regardless.
“We've worked hard all weekend and today finally I had slightly better feeling with the bike but it was very difficult to score great results from the fifth row. In race 1 I made a good start, which I knew was essential if I wanted to make some good points. I tried to push as hard as possible but by the last five laps or so I was lacking rear grip and this meant that my traction was very much affected.
“The second race was quite similar, the tyre performed better but I had a hard time getting past Guintoli, and again finished eighth. I apologise to the team, the fans and the sponsors for my poor results but at least I was able to make up a few positions and take some points. Now we look to start challenging for the podium every weekend from Valencia onwards.
“The important thing is not to crash, and to take as many points as possible each race. Biaggi and Haslam have demonstrated their strength both here and at Phillip Island and we hope we can be back up there on the podium at Valencia.”
Notably, Haga's results meant he was just the third fastest Ducati on track, behind both satellite Althea riders Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne.