Haga and the Pata Aprilia Team pose for their first official team photo during the Motorbike Expo in Verona, Italy.
The Pata racing Team revealed this weekend that ‘Nitro’ Noriyuki Haga will be their lone rider during the 2011 World Superbike Championship season. The grizzled veteran is coming off a lackluster year aboard the Xerox Ducati after finishing runner-up to Ben Spies just two years ago. The Japanese ace is always a threat to win races when he is on but the question we all want to know is how much does he have left in the tank.
Aprilia will provide as much support as can be expected for a non-factory team. Both Haga and his new motorcycle are proven winners and both Noriyuki and the Pata team hope that they will be a formidable combination. Over the past decade the Japanese star has finished runner-up in the championship three times, including the ill-fated 2000 season when he lost 25-points for failing a drug test for Ephedra weight loss supplements which handed the title to the Texas Tornado, Colin Edwards. That may have stung worse than crashing out of contention in the season finale of the 2009 season which handed the title to another American from Texas, Ben Spies.
The Pata Team will be competing with the very same 2010-spec Aprilia RSV4R that Max Biaggi rode to the SBK title just last season. Between Biaggi and camier the RSV4R was the dominant machine, winning 10 races and a combined 17 podiums. This is not the first time Haga has ridden for Aprilia. He first raced SBK for them during the 2002 season aboard the RSV1000R V-Twin powered Mille where his battles with 2-time SBK champion Troy Corser were legendary. He moved on to ride the Cube in MotoGP before returning to Superbikes after a year of near death experiences on the failed Triple. Now, in the twilight if his career he will have as good a shot as anyone to win the 2011 championship. The bike is there and the playing field is leveled even further with Ducati pulling its factory support in lieu of backing privateer teams.
“I immediately accepted Daniele Carli and Marco Borciani’s offer,” explains the 39-year old Haga. “I will be provided with a highly competitive motorbike, the one that belonged to the world champion 2010. With this I think I will be able to aim for the first places at every race. Throughout my career I achieved a lot, but I’m still not satisfied. I dream of winning the world title and isn’t written that I can’t do it on this motorcycle. For sure, on paper, officials teams have an advantage, but Aprilia has already shown its willingness to give the greatest support to a racer fighting for a big goal.”
Noriyuki Haga Career:
2010: 6th – World Superbike Championship
2009: 2nd – World Superbike Championship
2008: 3rd – World Superbike Championship
2007: 2nd place – World Superbike Championship
2006: 3rd place – World Superbike Championship
2005: 3rd place – World Superbike Championship
2004: 3rd place – World Superbike Championship
2003: 14th place – MotoGP World Championship
2002: 4th place – World Superbike Championship
2001: 14th place – 500cc Grand Prix Championship
2000: 2nd place – World Superbike Championship
1999: 7th place – World Superbike Championship
1998: 6th place – World Superbike Championship
1997: 1st place – All Japan Superbike Championship