Noriyuki Haga made a welcome appearance on the World Superbike podium in PATA Aprilia colours for the first time at Misano after prevailing in a dramatic last corner tussle with Ayrton Badovini.
Though he has amassed a total of 113 WSBK podiums over a 14 year career, Haga has not made it to the rostrum since switching to the satellite PATA Aprilia team from Ducati Xerox over the winter.
Continuing to develop the bike as the season continues, Haga seemed unlikely to be in a position for a podium charge at Misano having missed the Superpole cut to start 17th, though this would become 15th in race two by virtue of two absentees.
However, the Japanese rider benefitted from the red flag in race two to begin the restart from tenth, whereby he swiftly worked his way up to fourth behind Leon Haslam.
Finding his way past with five laps remaining, though Haga was hunted down himself and overtaken on the last lap by a charging Badovini, he showed his experience by calmly reclaiming the position on the final bend and in the scramble for the finish line.
A welcome boost for the Italian team – formerly known as DFX Corse -, Haga is hopeful this will be the first podium of many.
”I'm really happy about the result on this track. It's a boost of enthusiasm for me and the team. I was able to take advantage of the gap left by Badovini, although the tyre was worn out. We still have to grow trying to fight constantly for the podium, but this is a good first step. Hopefully I'll repeat my performance next week in Aragon."
Despite the result, Haga actually drops one position to 12th in the overall standings, ironically behind Badovini.