The rumors about Noriyuki Haga’s future have been swelling for the past few weeks, as the Japanese rider was tipped to land in the British Superbike Championship for the 2012 season. Officially confirmed today by Yamaha Racing, Nitro Nori will once again take to a Yamaha YZF-R1, as he competes with Swan Yamaha in BSB, and permanently replaces the injured Ian Hutchinson. While BSB fans were surely dismayed by the news that Hutchy would be out for at least part of the BSB season, the Isle of Man TT star’s absence will at least be made up for by the addition of Haga to the BSB rostrum.
A boon for the British Superbike series, Haga’s status as a former-WSBK contender should add another name to the list of riders that British fans will have to follow in 2012. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride, Haga finished runner-up in the 2000, 2007, & 2009 WSBK seasons, and finished third in the 2004, 2005, 2006, & 2008 seasons. Nitro Nori will be hoping to change that luck in the UK though, and with the support of the factory-backed Swan Yamaha squad, we expect to see the Japanese rider on the top step on more than a few occasions.
“It is a new challenge for me to race in BSB and I am now ready for the new season with Swan Yamaha,” said Haga. “I feel that after many years in the same series this will be a kind of restart to my racing career. BSB has grown a lot and I have big support from the fans in the UK, so I liked the idea of racing in the Championship. It will also be a return to Yamaha, where I spent so many years taking many wins and now I feel like I am going back to my family.”
“I have won races with Yamaha before in the World Championship and now I hope that we can do it again in BSB,” he continued. “I don’t know several circuits in England and the BSB Championship but I will do my best to get results this year for the fans, myself and for Yamaha. We will start testing soon and I am very excited to get back on track as we have big ambitions for this season. Finally I hope that Ian Hutchinson can recover soon from his injury.”
“It was a difficult situation for the Swan Yamaha team when Ian (Hutchinson) was sidelined with just four weeks remaining before we begin our pre-season testing program,” explained Swan Yamaha Team Owner Shaun Muir. “We then had to set out to find a replacement rider and the result for us could not have been better. We are absolutely delighted that Noriyuki will be joining us and we are now looking forward to welcoming him into the team.
“Noriyuki has such vast experience of racing a Superbike and during his career has always had a strong partnership with Yamaha and we are happy that we can continue that relationship this year,” continued Muir. “The Swan Yamaha team won the title last season and Noriyuki is really ready for the challenge of BSB and is coming to race here to win.”