I know this site is dedicated to Ducati, but sometimes it is worth resetting the lens to look at something significant in our sport. Today Mat Mladin announced his retirement from motorcycle road racing at the end of 2009 and I wanted to acknowledge his amazing career. Beside he raced a Fast by Ferraci Ducati and a Cagiva 500GP bike so that qualifies him as a Ducatista!
Mladin won his first national championship in Australia in 1981 on the dirt (flat track). He followed that up with 3 motocross championships in a single year. His switch to road-racing marked him as a phenom since he began winning almost immediately taking the Australian 250 Production championship in 1991 and followed that up with the Australian Superbike championship the very next year on a Team Kawasaki Australia ZXR750. The following year he was a factory 500GP racer. Just pause for a second to absorb all that. Imagine you started road-racing this year and in 2011 you had a MotoGP ride racing with Valentino Rossi and company? I know, it’s almost inconceivable. For young, inexperienced Mladin the pressure of trying to race at the pinnacle of 2 wheeled sport on the global stage on the less than ideal Cagiva proved difficult.
Xerox Ducati’s Noriyuki Haga defied the odds yesterday to emerge from the Brno round of the 2009 World Superbike championship with his series lead intact despite riding only weeks after he fractured his right ulna and cracked his left scapula in 3 places at the Donington Park round.
After severe pain from his injured scapula (which ducatinewstoday knows full well unfortunately) meant he could qualify only 14th fastest, it seemed a foregone conclusion that unexpected pole-sitter, Yamaha’s Ben Spies, would fight for a double win and take the points lead for the first time this year.
However Haga’s teammate, Michel Fabrizio, and a fast Max Biaggi on the new Aprilia RSV4 had other ideas. During the first race Fabrizio did Haga a huge, presumably inadvertent favor when he lost the front and took himself and Spies out of the event as you can see below.