Motorcycle News is reporting that Yamaha’s star roadracer, Noriyuki Haga, who suffered through a season of controversy in World Superbike and was ultimately docked points and suspended for using an illegal substance (ephedrine), wants to ride GP bikes next year (presumably for Yamaha). According to MCN, Haga stated from a spectator’s perspective at Brands Hatch that “I want to go to GPs now. The time is right because the change to a new championship in 2002 will help me ride better. The final decision will be taken in a couple of weeks, but I want to go to GPs and I want to start testing as soon as possible.” There is no reason to doubt that Yamaha will grant his wish.
The press has been speculating that Ducati was close to signing Haga to ride WSB next year on his own team in order to provide him with Dunlop tires. Haga’s statements at Brands Hatch reflect Haga’s understandable frustration with his WSB experience this year — he claims his failed urine test resulted from diet pills.
Yamaha has put Haga on a GP bike before, and he made the podium his first time out. He is incredibly talented and precise in his riding style, and Yamaha is undoubtedly anxious to keep him happy and in the company stable. A switch to GPs next year could also ready Haga for the ultimate switch to four-stroke GP bikes in 2002.