Noriyuki Haga says he and the PATA Aprilia team is close achieving a breakthrough result after just missing out on a podium finish during the second World superbike race at Monza.

The Japanese rider has endured mixed fortunes aboard the satellite RSV-4 during the opening three rounds of the 2011 season, but made good strides at Monza, even if a good result in race one was scuppered by a drive-through penalty for cutting a chicane.

Nonetheless, Haga bounced back in race two to become embroiled in an intense - and almost physical - tussle with former Ducati Xerox team-mate Michel Fabrizio. Though the Italian got the better of Haga, the 2009 runner-up was pleased with the marked step forward.

"I had fun in race two, but we didn't get the brakes set up to my way of riding and it prevented me from making a more determined attack on Michel Fabrizio. We made another step forward and we're really close to achieving a great result.

"Now we'll focus on the tests at Misano to try and keep improving the bike's setting, ahead of the next round at the end of the month at Miller Motorsports Park."



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