Noriyuki Haga says he is looking forward to making his return to the World Superbike Championship for a one-off performance at Imola after getting his first taste of BMW machinery at Mugello.
The three-time WSBK runner-up makes a shock return to the premier Superbike series in Italy as part of the Grillini Dentalmatic team alongside Vittorio Iannuzzo, Haga set to line-up aboard a privateer BMW S1000RR having not raced at world level since 2011.
Indeed, Imola will also represent Haga's first race outing since concluding his single season in the British Superbike Championship more than eight months, but he says his one-day test at Mugello was a good opportunity for him get better acquainted with the bike.
"First of all I would like to thank Feel Racing and Team Grillini Dentalmatic for the opportunity to ride the BMW S 1000 RR”, he said after completing 70 laps. “The test at Mugello went really good and we were able to find a base set-up for the bike for the round at Imola.
“I haven't been racing since October of last year, but I hope to be quick enough, I'll be doing my best and push hard during the whole weekend, I want to score a good result for the team and the fans."
A 43-time race winner, Haga was runner-up in the WSBK series in 2000, 2007 and 2009 and is widely considered to be the greatest rider never to have lifted the world title.
Though the Grillini Dentalmatic BMW has enjoyed scant success since joining the WSBK ranks in 2012 – the team is yet to notch up a top ten finish -, Haga has a strong record at Imola, winning in 2009 for Ducati Xerox and scoring two podiums on his last visit there aboard a Pata Aprilia in 2011.