Ducati Panigale R

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 – 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.”

BSB – Hopkins returns to Moto Rapido Ducati for 2017 season

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American John Hopkins has secured his place on the 2017 BSB grid after signing a new deal to return to the Moto Rapido Ducati team for the forthcoming season.

The Californian, who has previously been a MotoGP podium finisher, came tantalisingly close to lifting the 2011 BSB crown in one of the most memorable season finales in history. ‘Hopper’ missed out on the crown to Tommy Hill by just 0.006s at Brands Hatch making it the closest ever championship title decider and is now gunning to be back in contention in 2017.

Hopkins had his first taste of the Ducati in 2015 when he joined the Winchester-based Ducati dealership run team mid-way through the season. He then went on to score the first ever podium finish for the Ducati Panigale R in the Championship as the team scored their first top three finish at Brands Hatch.

Hopkins said: “To be back with the Moto Rapido team and on the Ducati again is something I am really so excited about. I enjoyed last season but I never felt as comfortable on the Yamaha as I did the first time I rode the Ducati in 2015. It’s such a great bike to ride and it really suits my riding style; I certainly hadn’t had as much fun riding motorcycles in a while until I had my first laps on the Panigale in 2015.

“I love this team and they were always one of my first choices for the new season. We had a podium finish together in 2015 and I know that they have come on leaps and bounds with the development since then. During my time with them previously there were several occasions when we were in guaranteed podium finishing positions until we had some minor technical problems because so much was so new, but now this bike is the complete package.

“My hopes are extremely high for next season and it is going to be one of the most competitive seasons ever I feel. We say it every year, but with so many riders from the World Championship on the grid, some new riders and some of the established contenders it is a stacked field of world class riders for sure. Our aim and focus is to go testing and then be there right from the start.”

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.”

BSB – Byrne takes title in showdown at Brands

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Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne is celebrating an unprecedented fifth BSB title at his home circuit of Brands Hatch after a season-long battle with arch rival Leon Haslam.

Byrne held a 27 point advantage ahead of the second race of the weekend and the Kent contender knew what he needed to do to deliver the title for the Be Wiser Ducati team to strengthen his statistics as the most successful rider in the history of the series.

Ellison had hit the front of the field in the second race of the weekend in drying conditions on the Grand Prix circuit ahead of Christian Iddon and John Hopkins but title rivals Haslam and Byrne were initially languishing outside the top ten on the opening lap.

The pair were on the move and then continued to gain ground, but at the front the leading trio had edged away from the pack and Ellison ensured that he defended hard to hold off his American rival who scored the ePayMe Yamaha team their first podium finish.

Race one winner Peter Hickman was back on the podium for the second consecutive race after Iddon suffered the heartbreak of a technical problem with just two laps remaining which forced him out of third place.

Haslam and Byrne had battled the nerves of the title fight to move into fifth and sixth respectively after some hard charging moves on Glenn Irwin, Tommy Bridewell and Jason O’Halloran who dropped to ninth in the closing stages of the race.

Ellison was focused on a repeat performance in race two and he gave it his all to celebrate a double victory to claim third in the overall standings and end his 2016 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship season on a high in a ten lap sprint for the third and final race of the season.

The race began with Ellison, Hopkins and Ryuichi Kiyonari duelling at the front of the field, but the race was red flagged when James Rispoli’s Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha suffered a technical problem, leaving an oil line at Hawthorn.

A ten lap restart saw a sprint race to the finish line, again Ellison hitting the lead at Paddock Hill Bend on the opening lap with Hopkins, Kiyonari and Iddon in close contention. Iddon was instantly attacking and on the second lap fired the Tyco BMW ahead of Kiyonari at Paddock Hill Bend, closely followed by a hard-charging Haslam.

Ellison was under pressure from the growing freight train; Hopkins, Iddon, Haslam and 2016 champion Byrne were all battling for the final podium positions of 2016. An incredible scrap went all the way down to the wire with Haslam and Byrne making contact on the final lap in their last dash for supremacy in 2016.

Byrne made it through to third, pushing Haslam back to fourth on the final lap as Ellison celebrated the final spoils of the 2016 season ahead of double podium finish Hopkins for the ePayMe Yamaha team.

Byrne said: “I must admit, it’s a strange feeling to have won the championship with a sixth place finish, but to do so with a new manufacturer is a massive achievement for both myself and the team.

“The conditions in the first race today were very tricky and the bike was strong in the wet part of the track and not so strong in the other parts so it made it very difficult to overtake. Leon came by and I realised I needed to keep one place behind him to clinch the title and while he pulled away initially, he gradually came back to me and we got the job done.”

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, race two result:

1 James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)

2 John Hopkins (ePayMe Yamaha) +0.093s

3 Peter Hickman (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +4.559s

4 Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +21.528s

5 Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +24.422s

6 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +24.513s

7 Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +26.109s

8 Tommy Bridewell (Bennetts Suzuki) +26.679s

9 Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +26.752s

10 Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki) +27.043s

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, race three:

1 James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)

2 John Hopkins (ePayMe Yamaha) +0.083s

3 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.254s

4 Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.335s

5 Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +0.896s

6 Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +2.245s

7 Ryuichi Kiyonari (Smiths Racing BMW) +6.139s

8 Tommy Bridewell (Bennetts Suzuki) +6.428s

9 Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki) +6.556s

10 Broc Parkes (ePayMe Yamaha) +6.635s

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:

1 Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 669

2 Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 640

3 James Ellison (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 610

4 Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) 602

5 Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 568

6 Luke Mossey (Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki) 550

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 – Marco Melandri in, Davide Giugliano out at Ducati for 2017

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The Ducati Factory WSBK outfit has announced Marco Melandri will be riding its Panigale R in 2017, the 34-year-old replacing Davide Giugliano.

Melandri will partner Chaz Davies, the Welshman who is spearheading the Italian’s current campaign, and a move which will see the former BMW team-mates reunited.

Davies, 29, is currently in the middle of his third season with Ducati and, thus far, has secured nine wins and 32 podiums overall on the Panigale R,while Melandri return to the series which has seen him claim 19 wins and 49 overall podiums in 100 races.

The Italian said: “I’m really excited to come back to racing, it’s a dream come true. I always said I was only interested in a top bike and top team, and I could not have asked for more. I kept following WSBK closely, and I’m confident the Panigale R can perfectly suit my riding style.

“We’ll just have to take one step at a time, but the potential is surely high. I know it won’t be easy to get back up to speed, but I have all the time to step on the bike, do laps and make sure I’m ready for the first test: to this end, I will skip the holidays to train on a street version of the Panigale R.”

The move means Davide Giugliano will be looking for a new ride after three seasons with the team.

The Roman said: “I had a great time with Ducati. I learnt a lot and was given a wealth of experience to draw upon, which is really important for a young rider. We also faced some difficult times, especially last year when I was badly injured, but we’ve always stayed close.

“We have decided to take different paths, but our relationship remains strong: I’m still young, so we may rejoin forces in the future. I sincerely wish Melandri the best and would like to thank everyone in Ducati, especially Paolo Ciabatti, and Aruba.it for all their support. It’s been a great journey, which has yielded great results despite the fact that we would have liked to do more, but I’ll give my best until the end of the season to achieve bigger goals.”

give him all our support until the last race to help him achieve the results he deserves.”

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)

 

WSBK – Davies dominates at Ducati’s backyard

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Chaz Davies put in the perfect performance to give Ducati the Rac One win at their own backyard, dominating at Imola from flag to flag.

The Welshman led the race from the first until the last corner after topping all previous sessions between practice and qualifying, taking the holeshot from pole position and the first, historic victory for the Panigale R in Italy.

Davies also posted the fastest lap of the race (rewriting the circuit record) with a blistering 1:46.700 during lap three, pulling away from the group together with championship leader Jonathan Rea.

Rea continued to chase hard, but a mistake at Turn Seven on lap eight  allowed the race leader  to gain a five-second advantage, a margin he comfortably maintained until the checkered flag.

Davies said: “Today’s race was just perfect. I got a clean start and then I got my head down to push since the very first lap and make my own rhythm. At first, the gap between Jonathan and I was going back and forth, but after a few laps I tried to break away and then the pitboard signaled a five-second margin, but I kept pushing to stay in the high 1:47 mark as long as possible.

“To win here is different from any other track and simply special, Imola is Ducati’s backyard. From Aragon onwards, my Panigale R has always been competitive and in the ballpark. The latest engine upgrades allowed us to be on par with our rivals, and I want to thank Ducati for giving me a complete package. Now I hope we can repeat ourselves tomorrow. The forecast says it might rain, and we need to be ready no matter what.”

Team principal Stefano Cecconi said: “There isn’t a better place than Imola to celebrate a victory. The atmosphere here is just fantastic, and the passion of our supporters fills the air. With Chaz, we scored a ‘hat trick’ taking pole position, fastest lap and the victory. Davide recovered strongly since yesterday, both during Superpole and the race, where he managed to be consistent despite an issue. Tomorrow, our goal is to have both riders on the podium.”