Imola

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.”

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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 – Laverty escapes injury in huge Race One off at Imola

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Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty emerged unscathed from a dramatic, and fast, racing incident during Race One at Imola.

Saturday’s Superpole sessions were promising for the Milwaukee Aprilia rider, with Laverty qualifying an encouraging P6 after going straight to Superpole 2 from Free Practice.

Laverty made a good getaway and quickly took fifth place, and although he couldn’t manage the pace of the top four he ran well in the middle of the field, enjoying battles with the Ducati of Fores and the MV Agusta of Camier.

As his pace dropped Laverty fell into the clutches of the Yamahas of Van der Mark and Lowes, defending well against both until a late move from Lowes resulted in a contact of the bikes.

Laverty’s bike suffered a broken front brake line and he was unable to slow as he approached Turn 17 – he managed to jump from his bike at high speed and avoided a collision with the wall, while his bike burst into flames on impact.

Laverty said: “I was optimistic at the start because the bike was feeling good, but I started losing pace after about 7 lap and I was moving backwards. I tried hanging in, and just before the crash happened the bike started to feel good again.

“We didn’t have much rear grip today. It was good at the start and then went away, but then it came back in the middle of the race which was strange. That’s something we need to look closely at, at times I felt I could really push but it was disappointing to see other guys coming past.

“I’m OK after the crash and I thought it would hurt me more, but my gear did its job and I’m ready to get on the bike again tomorrow. It’s hard to know how tomorrow will go, obviously there are positives to take from today but we have to analyse where we’re struggling.”

Laverty visited the Medical Centre for precautionary checks but has been deemed fit to race on Sunday.

WSBK – Rampant red dragon destroys the field in Imola

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Imola is the home race for the red bikes from Borgo Panigale and another crushing performance from Chaz Davies gave the Ducatisti something to cheer about.

After dominating Race One, the Welshman was once again on the top step of the podium in Race Two, scoring an impressive double win for Ducati and closing the gap to series leader Jonathan Rea.

Thanks to another ‘holeshot’ at the start, Davies managed to impose his rhythm and quickly pulled away from the rest of the field, posting the race’s fastest lap with a 1:42.240 in Lap Six and then increasing his lead to five seconds, a margin he administered until the finish line, preceding Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.

He said: “It’s just been an incredible weekend, from start to finish. The latest upgrades Ducati brought for the Panigale R in Aragon allowed us to compete for the win in each race. To seize a victory here in Imola, Ducati’s backyard, is special. To do a double, is unbelievable.

“Today the conditions were different, but we were able to create a gap since the first few laps. I made a couple of mistakes in Lap Nine that made me lose a second, but also helped me stay focused until the checkered flag. We head to Sepang with confidence, as we have a more competitive package than last year, when we still left Malaysia with a second place and a win. Our goal is to keep the momentum and further cut the gap in the championship.”

The Ducati pilot now lies second in the overall standings with 186 points, 35 behind Rea who, thanks to his two excellent second place finishes in the Imola races, remains firmly at the top of the rankings with 221 points. The other Kawasaki Racing Team rider, Tom Sykes, is in third place with 154 championship points.

With Davies’ double, Ducati also closes the gap behind Kawasaki in the Manufacturer Standings: the manufacturer from Akashi leads with 230 points, but Ducati is close behind with 196.

In Race Two the two Ducatis ridden by Davies and Giugliano got off the line well, but already in the third lap the situation had changed. The Welshman stayed in the lead all the way to the chequered flag, whereas the Italian was forced to give way to the two Kawasaki riders, Rea and Sykes who, like yesterday, would finish in the exact same order behind Davies and ahead of Davide Giugliano.

Race 2 standings:

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

2) Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)

3) Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)

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

5) Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)

6) Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team)

7) Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team)

8) Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team)

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

10) Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team)

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.”