Noriyuki Haga’s return to World Superbike was a triumphant one as he provided his new Ducati Renegade team with a victory after the ill-fated start to Regis Laconi’s campaign.

Noriyuki Haga’s return to World Superbike was a triumphant one as he provided his new Ducati Renegade team with a victory after the ill-fated start to Regis Laconi’s campaign.

Starting from pole in both races, Laconi was unable to capitalise on this position in the first race as he went skidding off the wet track. Hoping for a chance to redeem himself, Laconi was unlucky again as he ground to a halt with mechanical problems early in race two.

And when the field crossed the start/finish line for the first time in the final race the order was: Haga, Leon Haslam, James Toseland, Garry McCoy, Steve Martin and Chris Walker, amongst others.

Haslam held the second spot until being passed by Toseland on lap two. By lap 11, Haga and Toseland reached a stalemate up front with neither able to either extend or decrease the 3,5secs gap to the other. The fight for third between Haslam and Martin was becoming more and more intense.

There was never more than a second between Haslam and Martin for a few laps as Haslam produced a solid defence against the experienced Martin. He would then pass Haslam on lap 15 who, eager to regain position, ran wide and forced him onto the gravel – and into tenth place.

At the front of the race, it was all Haga as the popular Japnese rider claimed victory on his return to the World Superbike Championship. However, his DNF after technical problems in race one means that Toseland will lead the championship going into round two at Phillip Island.

Valencia was also the scene of another first as Chris Walker, riding for Foggy Petronas, finished third in the first race behind Toseland and Chili to hand his team its first ever podium finish in only its second season of racing.

1. Noriyuki Haga JPN 999R Team Renegade Ducati 23laps

2. James Toseland GBR 999R Ducati Fila +1.769secs

3. Steve Martin AUS 999R DFXtreme Sterilgarda +10.021secs

4. Pier Francesco Chili ITA 999R Team PSG-1 Corse +10.138secs

5. Chris Vermeulen AUS CBR 1000RR Ten Kate Honda +17.067secs

6. Garry McCoy AUS 999R Team Xerox Ducati - Nortel Networks +21.140secs

7. Chris Walker GBR FP1 Foggy Petronas Racing +21.584secs

8. Marco Borciani ITA 999R DFXtreme Sterilgarda +21.626secs

9. Leon Haslam GBR 999R Team Renegade Ducati +33.387secs

Original article from Car