Noriyuki Haga - 2006 Rider Profile
2006 Rider Profiles
Superbike legend Noriyuki Haga returned to his spiritual home for the 2005 season, taking the R1 to third place in its first year of world superbike competition.
Haga was a mainstay of Yamaha's factory world superbike team between 1997 and 2000. For many people the Japanese star isn't just a Yamaha world superbike rider, he is the Yamaha world superbike rider.
The Samurai of Slide, aka Nitro Nori, rode into superbike at a time when the series was challenging GPs for popularity and added another dimension to an already personality packed paddock. Nori-chan made his debut as a wild-card at Sugo in 1996 and made an immediate impact by finishing second. He was drafted into the factory team as a replacement for the injured Colin Edwards at the end of 1997 and was a permanent fixture until the programme ended in 2000. Three wins at the start of the 1998 campaign turned him into the fans' favourite and Haga became the first Japanese rider to gain a worldwide audience. Fans loved the way he would throw the YZF750 sideways into the corner, but just as much they loved his carefree attitude to life.
When Yamaha withdrew from world championship superbike racing at the end of 2000, Yamaha offered Haga a switch to Grand Prix. However, after a year of mixed results Noriyuki decided to move back to his beloved Superbike World Championship, finishing the year fourth on a factory Aprilia. When Aprilia also withdrew from the series, Haga found himself back in MotoGP - finishing the year 14th on an underdeveloped bike. The following year saw Nori return to the Superbike World Championship riding a privately-entered Ducati to six wins, confirming his status as one of the championship's top stars by finishing third in the series - bettered only by the Italian manufacturer's factory entrants.
That was enough to convince Yamaha that Haga was the man to lead their return to the series and the 30-year-old from Aichi did not disappoint. Despite missing much of the early testing due to contractual reasons, Haga showed his best form in the latter part of the 2005 campaign, winning two races (Brno and Brands Hatch) and outscoring eventual champion Troy Corser over the second part of the season.
With this sort of form, it was little wonder that the Haga/Yamaha partnership is continuing in 2006. The hugely popular racer is the company's most successful superbike rider of all time with a total of 13 wins on Yamahas and a best championship position of second in 2000. Now married and the proud father of two sons, off-track Haga has matured from the raw, carefree youngster who set the world alight in 1996. But on the track Nitro Nori remains pure dynamite and as determined as ever to shake off the tag of the best rider never to win the Superbike World Championship.
With a year's experience of the YZF-R1 for both Haga and his Yamaha Motor Italia squad, 2006 will perhaps provide the Japanese ace with his best ever chance of title glory.
Date of birth: 02.03.1975
Place of birth: Aichi, Japan
Height: 168 cm
Weight: 65 kg
Marital status: Married with two sons
Hobbies: Snowboarding and riding his Waverunner
Team: Yamaha Motor Italia Team
Bike: Yamaha YZF-R1
Races contested in total: 155
First race: 1980
Victories in total: 19
Pole positions: 2
Championship wins: 0
2006: Yamaha Motor Italia Team, World Superbike Championship
2005: 3rd, World Superbike Championship
2004: 3rd, World Superbike Championship
2003: 14th, MotoGP World Championship
2002: 2nd, World Superbike Championship
2001: 14th, 500CC World Championship
2000: 2nd, World Superbike Championship
1999: 7th, World Superbike Championship
1998: 6th, World Superbike Championship
1997: All Japan Superbike Champion,
13th, World Superbike Championship
1996: 8th, All Japan Superbike Champion,
Won Suzuki 8-Hour (with Colin Edwards)
1995: 10th, All Japan Superbike Champion
1994: 9th, All Japan Superbike Champion
1993: 13th, All Japan 250cc Championship