THE tantalising prospect of Noriyuki Haga sliding his way around the World Superbike series on an Aprilia will become a reality after the Japanese rider signed for the Italian factory.
Haga has been known to have wanted to return to WSB for much of the year and signed a letter of intent with Aprilia to race an RSV1000 a few weeks ago.
Haga has now signed a proper contract and will race a full-factory RSV on his favoured Dunlop tyres, but the team will be run by FGF Corse Ė not directly by the factory.
Although the bikes will be the same level as those run by the factory this year and will be run by the same man Giacomo Giudotti.
Haga said: " Iím excited about coming back to four-stroke bikes but more than anything because Iíll have an official Aprilia RSV Mille in 2002. This bikeís a winner. Whatís more, Iíll have the pleasure of being with a team which has already notched up countless successes. Iíve been able to see the bikes close up and I must say Iím really impressed. "
Haga was scheduled to ride the bike for the first time this week if he had recovered from the tooth infection that caused him to miss the final GP of the year in Brazil. After being flown home from Brazil to Japan he collapsed and had to have two operations to cure the problem.
REVE/EMMETT DEAL CLOSER
THE team that took John Reynolds to the British superbike title this year is just a step away from getting a pair of works Aprilia RSV1000s to take Sean Emmett and a second rider into WSB.
Reve Red Bull racing, run by Ben Atkins, is already half way through getting the rumoured £2.5million it needs to make the deal a success after getting bikes promised by Aprilia
Atkins made it clear after Reynolds choose to race with Suzuki in Britain that he was going to race abroad again and would not change his mind.
Atkins said: " I have had several meetings with Aprilia over the past couple of weeks and everything is sorted in regard to the bikes. All we need to sort out is some of the finance and then the deal will get sorted.
CHILI BACK ON A DUCATI?
IT looks increasingly likely that Pier-Francesco Chili might be back on a Ducati in 2002.
Chili reckons he will definitely be racing for the NCR Ducati team and posed with the team at the recent Bologna show.
There had been a question mark over financial backing for the team and Chili said in MCN a month ago that £2 million needed to be found or he would be forced to quit.
It now appears that while that target may not yet be reached, there is enough cash to set Chili and teammate Broc Parkes on the road with brand new Testastrettas supplied by Ducati Corse.
Chili said: " Step by step we are getting closer to finding enough cash for the team. I want to continue to race and Iím sure now I will be able to. Right now I am trying to stay calm by concentrating on my own training programme. Because the money is so late in coming it means I will miss testing in December but Iím sure we will be ready to start in January. That will not be a big problem. "