the Borgo-Panigale based squad departs for Qatar today for Round 2 of the 2009 World Superbike Championship.
Both Noriyuki and his Ducati Xerox team-mate Michel Fabrizio made a strong start to the season on board their Ducati 1198 machines, as Noriyuki's win and second place took him straight to the top of the leader board, with a 15-point advantage over second-placed rider Neukirchner, while Michel lies in sixth position after securing strong fourth and fifth place finishes in the two Australian races.
Last year Qatar hosted the opening round of the championship and it was not an easy weekend for either Noriyuki or Michel. Both Ducati Xerox riders will be looking out for Corser and Biaggi, the riders that have faired the best at this track since it's inclusion on the Superbike calendar for the first time in 2005.
A third place in 2006 is Noriyuki's best result thus far at the Losail International Circuit.
"Well I can say that I'm very happy with how things went at the first races at Phillip Island and I'll be trying my best to have an equally successful weekend at Qatar. I am very pleased with the performance of the 1198 and my team have been fantastic so we'll be working hard to repeat our Phillip Island success. Each of the fourteen rounds will be a big challenge for me, and I will face each one in the same way, with the aim being always to win!"
After a third place finish in the Supersport race in 2005, Michel has not visited the podium here since moving to Superbike, his best result so far a fifth place last year.
"To be honest I hoped to do better at Phillip Island but what I didn't do there I'll be trying to do at Qatar of course. I've had ups and downs at Losail and the last time I was on the podium was in 2005 so it's about time I stepped up there again! I'm in shape, I'm feeling comfortable on the 1198 and I'm ready to race. As long as we don't get the rain that the GP guys just experienced over there, then we'll be fine."