Chaz Davies

WSBK – Davies does the double at Imola

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After winning Race 1 in a dominant fashion, Chaz Davies did the double at Imola (Italy), giving the factory Ducati squad its fourth WSBK success in a row at its home race.

The Welshman, who took pole position on Saturday, had to work his way up the field from ninth position today, based on the new 2017 grid regulations for Race 2, and got off the blocks quickly at the re-start – the red flags interrupted the race after only two laps.

Davies then progressively climbed his way up the ranks, closing the gap from provisional leader Sykes on the Kawasaki ZX-10R.

The Welshman then took the lead on lap 8, and eventually pulled away to win with a four-second advantage on his rivals.

Davies said: “What a weekend! For the first time this year I feel we’ve been the benchmark from the beginning. We were able to find our rhythm on Friday, and it sort of snowballed from there.

“The team has done an awesome job, the bike worked superbly in both races, in different conditions, but today it was quite interesting. We got mixed up at the first start, but after the re-start we got a good launch and I was able to make some good moves that put us in a good position. Sykes’ pace was strong, so I had to put my head down to hunt him and, once I caught him, I was able to set my own pace and that was good enough. Thanks to all the Italian fans for showing up this weekend, their push was something special.”

Ernesto Marinelli, Superbike Project Director, said: “Once again, Imola coincided with a really emotional weekend. Chaz rode two flawless races, and we dedicate the wins to all the Ducatisti who flooded the circuit and showed their passion, and also to all the boys at home who allowed Chaz and the team to finalise the job. To win at Imola is incredible.”

WSBK – Ducati dominates Race One at Imola

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The factory Ducati team enjoyed a day to remember in front of its fans at Imola as Chaz Davies once again proved to be the man to beat at the Italian track.

The Welshman, who secured pole position in the morning while showing an unmatched pace, never looked back after the start and finished with a seven-second advantage over his rivals when, with six laps to go, the race was red-flagged after Eugene Laverty’s big crash.

The race was declared, and with the results based on the positions from the previous lap, Ducati had two riders on the podium with team-mate Melandri enjoying his first WSBK podium at Imola .

Race winner Chaz Davies said: “It’s been a perfect weekend so far. I think this track really suits me and the Panigale R. We’ve made good steps forward under acceleration this year, and it was a big help here with the tight chicanes. Also, this layout helps me to take advantage of the strong points of my riding style. I kept controlling the gap from Rea, looking after the tyres, and the bike felt really consistent. It was a lonely race, but not an easy one.

“Tomorrow’s going to be different, starting from the back. We need to keep it clean and be patient. We can still improve something on the electronics side, but clearly we won’t make any big changes. Thanks to all the ducatisti for their amazing support today!”

Team-mate Marco Melandri said: “To step on the podium in front of the home crowd is amazing, but it wasn’t easy out there today. From this morning, we had some issues. I still didn’t feel at 100 percent under braking, and under acceleration I had to shut the throttle often while upshifting, without being able to fully take advantage of our power.

“Nonetheless, Chaz was really fast, especially in the third sector, and while trying not to lose contact with him I made some mistakes. After a few laps, with less fuel in the tank and a lighter bike, we improved. I was ready to fight against Sykes and in general I expected to battle against the two Kawasakis, but we didn’t take advantage of our full potential and I want to do better tomorrow.”

WSBK – Davies urges Rea to ‘cut the crap’ and let the racing do the talking

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The war of words from Assen’s fallout between Johnny Rea and Chaz Davies continues with the Ducati rider telling Rea to ‘cut the crap’.

Davies has issued a lengthy statement, apologising for his tirade against the reigning world champion in Parc Ferme, but also calling for the Kawasaki rider to stop playing games and to focus solely on riding.

Davies said: “Now that the dust has settled on the Assen WSBK weekend I’d like to bring into context the events that unfolded during the Superpole session on Saturday afternoon. I don’t feel like all the facts were obvious at the time so I think it’s necessary to provide the full picture.

“Firstly, I hold my hands up and apologise for my choice of language. I’m sorry it came across on live TV and to whoever it may have offended. While I’m sorry for my choice of language, I’m not sorry for addressing the issue in the way I did. I don’t need to detail that this sport is dangerous and there isn’t much more dangerous than a rider touring on the racing line. Add a touring rider into the path of other riders during the last lap of Superpole and it’s another level of #Sh*tsAboutToGetReal.

“Towards the end of Superpole 2, rider #65 set an incredible marker with his first lap on the new Pirelli qualifying tyres. These tyres aren’t exactly qualifying tyres, they’re called a pre-qualifying tyre and according to Pirelli should be “good for around three fast laps” rather than the typical single flying lap you’d usually see from a true qualifier. #65 rolled off the gas immediately after his first flying lap. That’s pretty normal when you know you’ve got everything out of your package, which, judging by his lap time, he seemingly did.

“I completed my first flying lap. The lap went OK, but I didn’t feel like I perfected it and I assumed it was probably not good enough for the front row of the grid. So, I pushed on for another bite at the cherry with a second lap. I crossed the line at the end of my first flying lap, 19 seconds after #65 completed his lap. 19 seconds is quite a large gap. For example, a full lap of cruising is, on average, about 15 seconds slower than an on-pace lap.

“So, for me to catch up the full 19 seconds in less than half a lap, is quite exceptional. Add to that the fact that #65’s slowest ‘pit in’ lap of the entire weekend was 18 seconds slower than a full on-pace lap (1’54 vs 1’36), yet at the end of Superpole 2 somehow he managed to lose 19 seconds in the opening 40 seconds of a full 96 second lap.

“In Moto3, the percentage determined to be “cruising” is 10%. Applying Moto3 rules, losing just 4 seconds would have been enough for #65 to incur a grid penalty. I wonder what penalty would have been handed down for 19 seconds?

“My second lap was underway and at the second intermediate split I was 0.051 (51 thousandths of a second) outside of my previous lap, a gap that I would definitely call ‘in touch’ to improve my own lap time. I saw #65 as I exited turn 5 onto the back straight, he took a long look over his shoulder through turn 6 and with that I expected him to move well aside on what is a seriously fast part of the circuit.

“As I threw my bike into into turn 7, #65 was mid corner, just wide of the ideal racing line. I’m talking a bikes width but no more, definitely far from off line. In that situation you don’t know what the rider ahead is thinking or which way he’s going as he hasn’t clearly shown which part of the track he’s heading for. He stayed on that line which then on corner exit turns into what is exactly the ideal line, where the natural line is to drift out to 3/4 track width before bringing it back to setup the entry for turn 8.

“I had already backed out of committing to turn 7 at the very last split second on corner entry as I could see what was about to unfold. That foresight and slight lack of commitment at the speed I was carrying gave me the time I needed to be able to pick the bike up on the early part of corner exit and give enough room to avoid what could have been a massive accident. #65 again looked behind, the opposite side to where I was and I felt the need to wake him up to the severity of what just happened. I hit him on the arm as I passed and hurtled some gestures his way.

“Fast forward a couple of minutes into Parc Ferme and once I saw #65 I made the Italian gesture of a pinched together thumb and fingers, translated as “what the hell were you thinking?”.

“I expected a different reaction to what came. #65 went straight on the defensive saying he hadn’t seen me, claiming he was off line anyway, why was I on the outside of him, I shouldn’t have been anywhere near him. It was a good attempt at turning the situation around to put the blame on me.

“There was everything but a simple apology, which, had it have arrived straight away, would had instantly diffused the situation. At that point I tried to put across the severity of the situation, but his arrogance was off the scale. I threw the regrettable profanities at him and finally, after heated exchanges, he begrudgingly offered his hand as an apology.

“As far as I was concerned it was too late and I didn’t feel like it was genuine, so I declined. He was happy to tell the media that is was good to see me frustrated. If you get your kicks from putting other riders’ lives in danger, good for you. My reaction was genuinely not informed by any kind of frustration other than at what I perceived as dirty riding.

“Race Direction took the matter into their own hands (without any intervention from me or my team) and decided that a three-place grid penalty was sufficient. Quite honestly, I’d have preferred to see an immediate admission of fault over the penalty that was handed down.

“After the incident, another rider who was on his ‘in lap’ and saw everything unfold confirmed exactly my thoughts that #65 was looking over his shoulder with intent from early in his in lap.

“At turn 5 it’s very easy to glance across the circuit to all the way through turns 2, 3 and 4 to see which riders are coming. #65 stayed well off the gas, taking another look over his shoulder during turn 6 (seconds before the incident) which unfortunately wasn’t broadcast on the replay, but is shown on the full Superpole 2 session video on the WSBK website (20min 52secs into the full Superpole 2 session video).

“I saw this look behind on track and then again on the full video clip when I was called to Race Direction – it was clear for all of us to see. #65 knew I was coming and endangered both of us with his underhand games.

“Of course, he will deny this, but the facts, video and Race Direction penalty prove otherwise. #65 knew I would abort my lap, but, if I had have committed to turn 7, there’s a strong chance neither of us would have made the grid. I’d expect fairer play from a novice, let alone a double world champion.

“Mistakes do happen. I’ve unintentionally held up others before and have always held my hands up to those kind of mistakes. However, with the facts that were in front of me, I’m absolutely certain there were no coincidences on this occasion. On track it’s usually clear what is or isn’t intentional – I had the same situation last year with my team mate Davide Giugliano in Thailand. However, then I recognised it as an honest mistake and he was quick to admit fault. A number of riders messaged me on Saturday to say they have, at various points in the past, had the same issues – if #65 sees you as a threat he’s willing to play those cards.

“So, I have this message for #65 – you’re a good enough rider without these games, so cut the crap and lets continue to put on the show that is entertaining fans of WSBK, mano a mano. I enjoy the battles, the intense rivalry and hugely respect your ability/achievements, but I strongly believe on this occasion you just took it way too far. Let’s get back to old fashioned hard and fair racing at Imola.”

WSBK – Rea wins Race One at Assen

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Jonathan Rea claimed the Race One win after a day of controversy at Assen.

The Ulsterman was caught up in a war of words with Ducati’s Chaz Davies in Parc Ferme, with the title rivals exchanging candid views about a coming together in qualifying – the Kawasaki rider was convinced he had left Davies enough room; Davies adamant that Rea had ruined his hot lap. Race Control sided with the Welshman, judging Rea had impeded the progress of a rival while he had been setting a fast lap, and thus imposed a penalty demoting him to fourth.

Tensions were still simmering on the grid for the start, with Davies still seething about Rea’s ‘lack of sportingness’.

As the lights dropped, Davies, Sykes and Rea made strong starts, with Davies doing most of the early front-running.

The pace was fast and Rea set a new lap record, over a second faster then the previous one, on lap three, with a 1’34.880 as he caught Davies, shadowing the Ducati rider for lap after lap.

Rea eventually pounced, only to be re-passed, and after a close battle, managed to edge back into front with two laps to go. However, the drama was not over as Davies was forced to stop trackside on Lap 20 with an electrical issue.

Rea crossed the line to take the win, his tenth at the Dutch track, with team-mate Tom Sykes claiming second and Ducati’s Marco Melandri taking over third spot.

Rea said: “That one was really nice because the more wins you get on a certain track the more pressure you feel to repeat it. I am not sure why I click so well with Assen but it seems to be working. It seems like our bike was working very well in the faster sections of the track, and Chaz was fast out of T5 in acceleration. I could maintain the lap time as we were to-ing and fro-ing at certain parts of the track, but I was strong in the back section, where it counts for passes. I had good pace at the end and I wanted to go through then and make a gap. But every time I put my nose in front there was a big block pass into the last corner. It was, honestly, very unfortunate for Chaz at the end and it is never a good way to lose points. But it was important for me that that bad luck happened to him when he was behind me because at that point of the race I was trying to make my rhythm and go away.”

WSBK – resurgent Davies takes Race Two win at Aragon

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The Ducati team took its first win of the season in Race 2 at Aragon thanks to a brilliant performance by Chaz Davies.

The Welshman bounced back from a nasty crash in Race One to claim his sixth victory at the Spanish track and 21st of his career.

Starting in tenth position, Davies quickly stormed through the field, already joining the leading group on the third lap. Davies and teammate Marco Melandri then stalked race leader Johnny Rea until lap 12, when Davies pounced to take the lead.

As in Race One, the final laps resulted in a spectacular series of passes between the leading protagonists, with Melandri climbing to second position before eventually falling away. Davies on the other hand continued to dice with Rea several times before making the decisive move at the last chicane to take the win.

Chaz Davies said: “The whole weekend has been difficult, from start to finish, so it was really important to cap it with a win, especially after yesterday’s disappointment. We were confident our bike would be fast at Aragon, but it wasn’t easy at all out there today and our main rivals seem relatively comfortable so we know there’s still work to do in many areas.

“Today we suffered a bit with grip early on. Also, the wind was really strong. It kept pushing me away from corners and in the last lap I got caught by a gust going into turn 5 and I missed a backshift, going a bit wide, but we still managed to finish in front. We’re competitive but it’s still not enough, so we need to keep working to improve.”

WSBK – Neil Hodgson’s 2017 season preview

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“This season promises to be a classic. Last year, the class was dominated by the best rider on the best bike. Johnny Rea was a class above his rivals, and he had a bike under him that matched his talent, even if there were a few issues with the gearbox.

“This year the already-strong Kawasaki has been upgraded, and I expect
it to be leading from the front again. He’s fast, consistent and doesn’t make many mistakes.

“But he won’t have it all own way, and Chaz Davies finished the second half of last season in the form of his life. He’s kept the momentum going into testing and the Ducati Panigale R is a just gets better and better. His new team-mate Marco Melandri has also looked fast in testing, and I can’t wait to see how Chaz deals with the threat.”

“There’s also the news Honda Fireblade, and it will be interesting to see how it goes. Hayden and Bradl are both fast, but the bike is unproven. Expect a few podium finishes.

“And the Yamaha R1 is now in its second year of development, which means the team should kick on. Guintoli has gone, and been replaced by Van Der Mark, who is talented, and hungry. His team-mate Alex Lowes has been instrumental in developing the bike, and his sheer raw talent and speed mean he’s bound to be in the mix too.”

WSBK – Davies takes double at Jerez

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Race One from Jerez may have seen the win go to the number 7 Ducati ridden by Chaz Davies, but thanks to the podium finishes of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea, respectively second and third across the line, Kawasaki secured the 2016 manufacturer’s title, the second in a row for the Akashi manufacturer.

In Race One, Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea got off the line well, but poleman and teammate, Tom Sykes, stayed solidly in the lead.

On the second lap, Ducati’s Davide Giugliano and Xavi Forés on the Aprilia were both forced to retire from the race after making contact.

It was a race with a high rate of attrition, as just a lap later, Alex Lowes on the Factory Yamaha was also forced to retire after crashing. In the meantime, Rea fell back to third place, overtaken by Chaz Davies on the Factory Ducati, who also overtook the other Kawasaki standard-bearer for the lead in the fourth lap.

The top three spots would remain unchanged until the end of the race, with Davies finishing more than three seconds ahead of Sykes and more than seven ahead of Rea. Fourth place went to Honda’s Nicky Hayden, who crossed the line some thirteen seconds behind the Ducati rider.

Race Two saw Davies complete the double, with the Welshman claiming his fourth win in a row and ninth of the season – tied with championship leader Rea – to maintain the momentum that saw him win five out of six races after the summer break.

Thanks to a blistering start from sixth position on the grid, Davies entered Turn One in second place and soon after took the lead and adopted the same strategy as in Race 1, progressively building a gap with an unequaled pace to cross the line with a comfortable lead over the chasing pack. To underscore his masterful performance, he also set the fastest lap with a 1:41.492.

Davies said: “To win four races in a row is just unreal. Lately I’ve been very confident and able to push 100 percent every lap, just dancing on the bike. Also, I managed to get the best start of the year and entered Turn One just behind Sykes. I think he was trying to save his tyres, so I took the opportunity because I knew we could run our pace for the whole race.

“Today, the key was to manage the grip. I was a little mindful at the start, because the hotter conditions made the track more slippery, but in the end I could see the gap building and then it was just a case of bringing it home. Without getting overconfident, we’ll try to make it six in a row to get second position in the championship.”

WSBK – dominant Davies shine in Race 2 at Magny-Cours

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Ducati’s Chaz Davies shone again at Race 2 at Magny-Cours, dominating the race to claim his second win of the weekend.

The race started with polesitter Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) getting off the line well, but he was quickly overtaken first by his teammate Tom Sykes and then by Davies.

The fourth lap saw Sykes attempting to pull the pin and run away at the front, and he succeeded building up a gap of about a second on Davies and Rea, but then in the fifth lap, Rea overtook Davies to move into second place.

By mid-race point the battle between the two Kawasaki riders for the top step of the podium began to heat up, and Rea and Sykes were within less than three tenths of one another, with Davies a second and a half behind.

Everything changed in the eighteenth lap, when Davies took advantage of the battle between the two Kawasaki riders, overtaking them both to move into the lead, with  Sykes retaining second place and Rea temporarily relegated to third.

In the next lap, the Northern Irishman managed to get the upper hand on his teammate, moving into second, and this would also be the finishing order – three British riders on the podium and the third double win of the season for Davies, while Rea saw his advantage in the overall standings grow to 48 points ahead of teammate Sykes.

Davies said: “It wasn’t easy at all today. I took the opportunity when it came, but honestly I didn’t think it was going to happen. I was struggling early on, doing the same pace as on Friday in the mid 1’38 mark. I was also finding it hard to pass the Kawasakis, as I couldn’t see where to do it unless I took a big risk, so I had to let the race come to me a little bit.

“It did eventually, and as Jonathan and Tom pushed each other wide at the hairpin, I just took the opportunity and dropped the hammer to put some distance in between myself and them. It’s been one of the most important weekends of my career, because we won in very different conditions, reaping the fruits of a lot of hard work with the whole team.”

 

WSBK – inspired tyre choice powers Davies to Race 1 victory at Magny-Cours

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Ducati team took its sixth win of the season in Magny-Cours, France, thanks to Chaz Davies’ triumph in Race 1.

With a wet track at the start of the race, Davies, who finished Superpole in third position, opted for intermediate tyres and although the Welshman’s choice was non-conformist, as most riders chose wet compounds, it eventually proved to be inspired.

Davies had to bide his time initially as the track was slippery, and was momentarily pushed out of the top ten, but soon mounted an incredible comeback that – as his opponents were forced to pit – saw him win with a ten-second advantage. It was Davies’ sixth victory of the year, a personal record.

He said: “I tried to make an educated guess on tyres, as in the past we haven’t always opted for the best strategy in these conditions. Still, it was somewhat of a gamble and I knew that early on it was just a matter of survival but the reward could be great.

“At first, I just tried to stay on the bike as in some points it felt like riding on ice, but when I saw the gap from the front after the first few laps I realized we could pull it off. It was fun to come back through the field. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be dry and we have a good chance, but we still have room for improvement.”

Team-mate Davide Giugliano wasn’t so successful, crashing out during his first qualifying lap in Superpole 1. The Italian remounted to post the 13th best time but, since the condition of his already injured shoulder worsened, was eventually declared unfit to race. He will thus return to Italy to undergo further treatment before the next round.

WSBK – Sykes dominates Race Two at Laguna Seca

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Race Two from Laguna Seca saw an intense battle for honours with the Kawasaki and Ducati factory riders putting on a scintillating display of racecraft, with Tom Sykes eventually emerging victorious.

The initially race began well for Italian Davide Giugliano who, during the third lap, aggressively overtook Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes to move into the lead. The Roman looked bullish and fast and managed to pull away, leaving the group of Sykes, Rea and Davies a half second behind him. However, the lead was short-lived as the race was redflagged during the sixth lap due to Pawel Szkopek’s crash.

At the second start, Tom Sykes got off the line well, but again Giugliano managed to bustle his way past and claim the lead. Behind them local boy Nicky Hayden was looking strong on his Honda, but Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea looked menacing and moved into third place after overtaking the “Kentucky Kid”.

The race sprung into life on Lap Four, with both Kawasaki riders making a spectacular move on the Corkscrew to overtake Giugliano – Sykes was now the new race leader, but Rea was extremely close and in the fifth lap he made his move for the lead.

The Ulsterman’s joy was premature however and Rea made a mistake and ended up in the sand. It was to prove a costly error – although he managed to get back on the track in tenth place, he stopped shortly afterwards and retired, his body language indicating a problem with his bike’s chain.

The second half of the race saw an intense battle between the second pack, and race one podium man Nicky Hayden was first overtaken first by flying Chaz Davies and then by Xavi Forés.

In the final laps, Giugliano began to hunt down Sykes in earnest, with Davies rapidly closing in on the pair, all three circulating within just seven tenths of each other.

At the start of the eighteenth lap, Davies upped the ante and managed to overtake Giugliano temporarily, but at the Corkscrew the Italian took the place back. In the nineteenth lap, the three riders were within a gap of four tenths and it was a heart-stopping finale with the Ducatis battling it out down to the last corner and Giugliano keeping Sykes in his sights right down to the end.

Race 2 standings:

1) Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)

2) Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

3) Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

4) Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team)

5) Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team)

6) Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team)

7) Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team)

8) Niccolò Canepa (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)

9) Anthony West (Pedercini Racing)

10) Román Ramos (Team GoEleven)