Aprilia Fast at Philip Island

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
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Haga!The FGF team hasconcluded its first round of winter tests in Phillip Island (Australia),preparing for the Superbike World Championship all set to start on 10March in Valencia. This was the first official sortie for Noriyuki Haga.

Haga had already got a taste of the RSV's potential in Valencia lastDecember but, due to terrible weather conditions, it was little more thana test outing. During the thee-day trials, Noriyuki Haga mainlyconcentrated on learning how to handle the Aprilia RSV and this made itpossible to develop the bike to suit his riding style. In any case, henotched up some very interesting times.

He did his first fast lap, onracing tires, in 1'33"456, just three-tenths of a second away from the official track record...

Up against his adversaries for the first time, Haga put on a goodperformance, matching the times of his more accredited competitors whowere able to benefit from longer experience of the bikes they wereriding. In three days, Haga covered 208 laps on the 4,450-meter PhillipIsland circuit, mounting up a total distance nine times longer than anactual race.

With the team technicians and those of the suppliers Ohlins(suspension) and Dunlop (tires), Noriyuki worked on perfecting the set-upand the suspension settings, with an eye also on the Australia GP whichwill be fought out on this track on 24 March. The Japanese rider used two2001-version bikes which mounted the latest equipment created during thewinter by the Racing Department: in particular, a new hub carrier andsome new features in the engine.For the next meeting, in Valencia (Spain), from 23 to 25 February, Hagawill have the new 2002 RSV which he will be using for the Championship.The opening round is all set for 10 March, again in Valencia.

"We'll be going back home satisfied" said Giacomo Guidotti, ChiefTechnician at FGF, "We got to within half a second of the worldchampion's time and we couldn't have hoped for more. Haga's style ofriding is very different from that of those who've ridden the RSV Milleover the past few years, and we've had to adopt some pretty differentset-up solutions. We're happy because Haga has enormous enthusiasm and isdetermined to get the set-up right: he's given us some invaluableindications.

Wheelie!Language hasn't been a problem either: with a sort ofAnglo-Japanese slang we get by perfectly. Now we're going back home toassemble the new bikes we'll be using for the World Championships and forthe next tests in Valencia, a circuit for which we have far morereferences than we have for Phillip Island. We're going to try and inchup there too."

"This fast, technical track was just right for me to get an idea of thepotential of the Aprilia bike: it's great!" said Noriyuka Haga. "I'vespent most of my career on four-stroke machines but I immediately got togrips with the Italian V2. I found it harder to get used to the set-up,because the RSV Mille is a very special machine, developed by riderswho've got a very different style from mine. We've got off to a goodstart but I think it'll take three or four races for me to get totallyfamiliarised with the bike. Once the test was over, I realised I reallydid make the right choice: with this Aprilia and this team, the sky's thelimit."

TIMES (summary):1. Bayliss (Aus-Ducati) 1'32"944;2. Xaus (Spa-Ducati) 1'33"136;3. Edwards (USA-Honda) 1'33"143;4. Bostrom (USA-Ducati) 1'33"377;5. Hodgson (GB-Ducati.) 1'33"443;6. Haga (Jap-Aprilia) 1'33"456;7. Izutsu (Jap-Kawasaki) 1'33"650;8. Martin (Aus-Ducati) 1'33"818;9. Toseland (GB-Ducati.) 1'34"201;10. Antonello (ITA-Ducati) 1'35"179;11. Walker (GB-Kawasaki) 1'35"694.
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