Troy Bayliss believes that Noriyuki Haga is one of three men capable of fighting for the World Superbike Championship in 2009.
Haga has replaced Bayliss in the factory Xerox Ducati squad for 2009 and got his first test on the 1200cc v-twin at Kyalami in South Africa three weeks ago.
During his first test, Haga crashed three times on the opening day, but redeemed himself by day three to set the third fastest lap. Bayliss is also tipping young guns Michel Fabrizio and Ben Spies to be title contenders in 2009.
Bayliss rode alongside Fabrizio in 2008 and believes Fabrizio has the experience and know how to fight consistently at the front, whilst Spies has proved his credentials in testing onboard the potent new Yamaha R1.
Speaking to MCN, Bayliss said:
“I think was very good considering it was his first test and the first time he’d been on the bike. He obviously had a rough first day but these things can happen.
"We know how good he was on the Yamaha so for me he is one of the top guys in the championship and he’ll be one of the top three fighting for the title. I think it will be between Nori (Haga), Ben (Spies) and Michel (Fabrizio).”