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Haga Now the Man to Beat

While the whole world may be abuzz about young Ben Spies (including MD, obviously), the Valencia round made Ducati’s Noriyuki Haga the man to beat for this year’s championship. Only three rounds in, and Haga already has a massive points lead and, more importantly for the long-term, is riding very fast and very consistently. He seems to have put his “win or crash” attitude far behind him, and is certainly getting along well with his new Ducati. Like Spies, he will only get faster as the year progresses.

Spies, meanwhile, already has two off-track excursions. In AMA racing, he was known for his consistency, and he will have to find that in WSB to be a threat for the title this year. As it is, with the points lead Haga now has (40 points), Spies will have to go on quite a winning streak, or Haga will have to return the favor (with some DNFs of his own).

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MD Readers Respond:

  • Wow Dirck, are you finally giving Nori-chan some prop’s? In all the years I have been following motorcycle racing Noriuki Haga has been one of my favorite racers ever. Concidering he has forever been on inferior equipment until now. He actually won a WSBK championship on an under powered R7, taken away from him because of a diet supplement! Yes he has crashed alot, because he was always riding harder than the others on better equipment. I like Ben Spies very much and think he is the future, possibly the present. But for all the enterainment Haga has given me, I am extremely thankful and would Love to see him win the championship. Tear it up, Nori-chan, Ganbatte Ne!!!
  • Haga, has been the man to beat from the start, not a newcomer, like it or not, that’s not reality. J.R.
  • Spies did run off track last weekend. I didn’t see it, but I will
    concede for the sake of argument that it was his mistake. That makes
    ONE off track excursion of his doing. The first race at Phillip Island
    he was run off the track by an errant Max Biaggi, which was not his fault.

    It’s racing and those things happen, and Haga does indeed look very
    strong, but I will bet that Spies makes it interesting before the season
    is over. He has already shown consistency with three Superpoles out of
    three, so that’s not really a concern. Admittedly, there is more to
    racing than pole, but Spies is the real deal and the season is young. Robert

  • Don’t be too quick to write Ben off. Haga has always been a crasher as
    opposed to Ben who has never been a crasher. Ben has had one crash this
    year, in the first race he was forced off the track. The Duck is a well
    developed bike while the Yamaha is all new and should improve over the
    season. I would give Ben at least even odds to end the season with more
    points than Nori. Earl

  • While I am not a big fan of Ben Spies I have to admit his performance in SBK is extremely impressive. Given the fact that this is his first year and Haga has been in the series for many years, Spies is more likely to be the racer to beat this season. If you consider the number of Ducatis placing in the top five for this last race, and the fact that the Ducati was the bike to beat last year, I suspect Spies is slightly handicapped by his ride, at least in this last round. Which is why he is having to push the bike to the absolute limit. George