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 – 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 – Ducati duo battle hard in Thailand

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The Ducati factory team struggled to adapt to the hot and slippery conditions in Thailand, with Chaz Davies managing a fourth place finish and Davide Giugliano crashing out towards the end when he was fifth place.

Kawasaki may have scored an impressive One-Two, but the race was dominated by the fierce battle between Davies, who qualified in fourth, and team-mate Giugliano, who qualified in sixth. Both were unable to go with the front runners of Rea, Sykes and Van der Mark, and while Davies showed a more consistent pace in the early phases, Giugliano recovered from the half-way mark, and began pushing his team-mate hard.

The squabbling duo then engaged in a spectacular, but fair, duel, which was unfortunately cut short when the Italian crashed with Giugliano two laps to go. Davies thus ended the race in fourth position, taking 13 valuable points, while Giugliano, who still managed to rejoin the race, crossed the line in 18th position.

Davies said: “It’s been a difficult race, and honestly I don’t think I could have done more today. I didn’t have the pace to stay with the frontrunners, and it wasn’t easy to hold Davide back either. I suffered an unexpected wear on the rear tyre before half-way, and I had to ride defensively. Also, top speed unfortunately is really important on this track and we still need to work on this aspect, especially in the first sector. It won’t be easy, but we won’t give up and will try some more changes to at least step on the podium tomorrow.”

A downbeat Giugliano said: “On the bright side, we’ve made a big step forward since yesterday, but I still struggled under braking and today it wasn’t possible to race at the front. If anything, as in Phillip Island, I managed to be progressively faster in the second half of the race. Still, I regret the crash, which took me off guard because I’ve never had any issues in turn 12 before. Like last year, this track is proving to be tricky for us, but we’ll evaluate the situation to have a proper rematch.”

BSB – Smrz out, Hopkins in at Moto Rapido Ducati

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Former MotoGP star John Hopkins is joining the Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati squad for the remainder of the 2015 season.

Hopkins has filled in for the injured Jakub Smrz for the last two rounds and yesterday the team announced that the American’s impressive performances had done enough to earn the ride for the rest of the season, with the outfit deciding to part company with Smrz with immediate effect.

Hopkins said: “I have definitely been enjoying myself with the team and there is a great atmosphere; for me it has been fantastic to come in straight away and show what we are capable of. I haven’t enjoyed myself on a bike this much in a long time and this opportunity is what I have been waiting for, especially after the frustrating start of the year when I had to watch everyone else testing and racing.

“I bided my time and it has paid off because I wanted to come back with a team and package that I knew had the potential to be at the front and I think everything happens for a reason. I can’t deny that I feel bad for Kuba because he is a great rider and I am sure he will be back soon, but I had to grasp this opportunity and I couldn’t give it up.

“It is amazing to think where we are already; I have had to take a step back and breathe to just look and appreciate how much progress has been made already. I have felt instantly at home with the feel of the throttle and the chassis which is incredible – I think that comes down to the characteristics feeling very similar to how the GP bikes were that I spent most of my career on.”

A disappointed Smrz handled the news with dignity. He said: “Racing does not always go the direction you want and I understand and respect the decision of the team. It´s been a hard start to the season and very unlucky for me and the team. In the moment when things started to work perfectly and I could finally fight for podiums, I got injured.

“Of course I’m not happy to finish now and that it’s not me to benefit from the hard development work we´ve done, but I wish good luck to Moto Rapido and John. Now I will continue my fitness preparation and hopefully I can be back on a race bike soon.”

Team Owner Steve Moore commented: “Last weekend we made more steps forward with the bike and despite the result we have to consider Thruxton a success. We’re not in a championship battle so the results are not as important as the progress, although we are keen to chalk up the first win soon.

“I can confirm that John will ride for the team for the remainder of the season and is now signed as our permanent rider.  Expanding the team to a two rider effort isn’t possible; we simply don’t have the resources to properly staff and run two riders without compromising the effort and attention to detail that I’m sure has pushed the team forward.  To overstretch would be a big mistake and wouldn’t be professional or fair to either rider.

“Personally it isn’t an easy decision to replace Kuba, but with his injury still in question and the momentum we have with John I have to do what is the best for the team, sponsors and Ducati. I’ve spoken to Kuba and he remains professional, which I thank and respect him for. It’s important to recognise the amazing development work that he has done with the Ducati. The situation doesn’t do him any justice especially as the bike was considerably improved prior to the Snetterton round and he just didn’t get a chance to display his potential on the bike John is now riding. I am sure he would be a front running rider too and if we had the opportunity to expand the team there would be no question about having him ride.

“The remainder of the season and 2016 is what we have to concentrate on now, and my job is to make the decisions that will give us the best chance of success.”

WSBK – dream return to racing for Giugliano

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Ducati WSBK Factory rider Davide Giugliano enjoyed a dream return to racing at Imola, landing a third and fourth places in Sundays races.

It was a successful return to racing for the Italian, who had been forced to sit out the start of the season after breaking several vertebrae after a massive highside in pre-season testing at Philip Island.

Giugliano said: “I’m really pleased with the podium, which on a personal level is like a win for me. After the first ‘heat’ I was already tired and the second part of the race was extremely difficult, I couldn’t have done any more.

“I was undecided as to whether to do race 2 at all as the first race really wore me out, but thanks to the Clinica Mobile’s help and the support of all the fans here, I was actually able to complete race 2, in fourth place. It’s been an important weekend for us, and has helped us see that we can fight for the top positions at every round.

“We have a high performing bike and, once I’m back to full fitness, I know we’ll be competitive. Today’s races were not at all easy and the results are thanks particularly to all of the help that the team, my family and Doctor Fabio Catani at the Policlinico di Modena have given me over these months, so I want to thank everyone who has supported me, as well as all the fans who were here watching today.”

WSBK – Bayliss hangs up leathers for good

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Australian WSBK triple world champion Troy Bayliss has called time on his racing for good this time after the second of his two outings aboard the Ducati Panigale R.
The 45-year-old originally retired seven years ago but sensationally returned to racing at the start of the season with the Ducati squad to replace injured Davide Giugliano, and enjoyed a solid performance today at the Chang International Circuit, finishing eighth and 11th in the two races.
Speculation had been rife that Bayliss would continue to deputise for Giugliano at Round 3 in Aragon, although Bayliss admitted it was likely he’d sit out the spanish round and instead ride at Round 4 in Assen. However, following the second race he announced his permanent retirement from racing.
He said: “All in all, and considering that conditions here are some of the most difficult I’ve experience, I can say that I’m fairly satisfied. I’ve never liked it when it’s this hot and they were, as I expected, two very physical and difficult races, especially the first as I didn’t even take a drink in my suit!
“I thought I’d do a little better in the second race but I knew it would be tough, so it didn’t go too badly I guess… It’s been fun, I came back in particular circumstances and wanted to do one more event after Phillip Island to see how it would go.
“I love racing, Ducati and the people that work here and it’s been really great to race with the Panigale R Superbike. I was lucky enough to finish my career fit and healthy and I’ve seen that I can still be fast, but now I am ready to return to enjoying life with my family in Australia. I want to thank everyone for their support and now I leave things to the young talents.”

WSBK – Ducati duo qualify sixth and seventh

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Ducati superbike riders Chaz Davies and Troy Bayliss enjoyed a solid qualifying session during  today’s Superpole at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, finishing in sixth and seventh places respectively.

This morning’s final timed practice session took place in surprisingly wet conditions, but as qualification for Superpole was established by times set yesterday in dry conditions, both Davies and Bayliss qualified directly for Superpole 2, in third and seventh place respectively.

Superpole 2 was a frantic affair as with the risk of rain looming over the pits, almost all riders were straight back out on track with the qualifying tyre. Davies completed a very fast first lap, in 1’34.087, followed by a second lap that was another three thousandths of a second quicker. However, a 1’34.084 saw the Welshman take sixth position. His team-mate Corser only made one flying lap with the qualifier (1’34.334), but that was still good enough to place him in overall seventh position.

Davies said he had suffered with froth end problems on his Panigale R. He said: “This weekend’s not turning out to be an easy one for us but we won’t stop trying. Yesterday I was missing feeling at the front and although we’ve made some changes today I know we’re still having some issues. It’s difficult to be consistent as the front is a bit nervous and that’s all it takes, a small mistake, to lose precious tenths. We’ll continue to work tomorrow and we have a few things to try in warm-up – I hope we can come up with something. I’ll do my best, also because, as we know, anything can happen come race day…”

His team-mate Corser was pleased with his progress as he continues to adapt to the bike, filling in as he is for the injured Davide Giugliano. He said: “I’m reasonably happy, and think I’m more or less where I thought I’d be on the qualifying tyre, but I’d have liked to do a little more in the free practice earlier. In terms of race pace I don’t think we’re doing too badly but I know tomorrow’s races will be tough. We’re still missing a little acceleration but I know we’ve worked in the right direction this weekend. We’ll see if we can find a little more in warm-up tomorrow and then I hope to be able to score two reasonable results…”

WSBK – Ducati duo in top seven in Buriram

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The Ducati WSBK team finished third and seventh at the end of the first two timed practice sessions at day one in Thailand.

Chaz Davies was immediately fast during the first session, recording a 1’36.054 that positioned him at the top of the timesheets for a good part of the session, but he suffered a small crash at Turn 3, 30 minutes from the session’s end. Fortunately he escaped uninjured and, thanks to the fast lap recorded in the initial stages, Davies concluded the session in fourth place.

His team-mate Troy Bayliss, also made good progress during the session and was able to to finish with a best time of 1’36.909, which positioned him 14th.

In the second timed practice, which took place on a much hotter track compared to the morning, both riders were to improve on their best times, with Davies recording a time of1’35.288 which positioned him third. Bayliss improved on his earlier time by 1.3 seconds, to close in overall seventh position with a fastest time of 1’35.690.

Despite his speed Davies was disappointed as he admitted he was struggling with the Panigale R. He said: “I’m not particularly happy actually, as I feel I’m missing the right flow with the bike. It’s working well in some places but in certain areas, particularly concerning the front, I’d like more confidence, as I don’t really understand where the limit is at the front. It’s good to be near the front of course, but I’d rather be there with everything feeling right. I had a little crash this morning – I was late on the brakes, quite tight and I think it was a little dirty there on the track but anyway, I wasn’t hurt and the bike was more or less OK…”

His team-mate Troy Bayliss was a little happier. He said: “We had a few little dramas this morning that meant that it took us a little while to get going. I was feeling ok but nothing really special in the first practice but I knew we’d be able to more this afternoon on the softer tyre and I was right, able to go immediately quicker. Then we made a change mid-session, a change that also used to help us in the past, and I was able to make some quick laps, with my fastest lap coming on a tyre that had done 13 laps. So I’m really happy now, when I got off the bike I felt like I did seven years ago…”

The Superbikes will be back on track tomorrow for the final timed practice, free practice and the Superpole sessions.

WSBK – King Troy to race in Thailand

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The Ducati WSBK Superbike Team has confirmed that three-times world champion Troy Bayliss will return to the track with the Italian team and the Panigale R for the second round of the championship in Thailand.

Bayliss, who will turn 46 on March 30, sensationally deputising for the injured Davide Giugliano at the opening round of Phillip Island and will substitute for the Italian rider once again, this time at the Thai track, new not only to the Australian but to all of the Superbike riders.

The Australian legend said: “I’m really excited to be able to ride the Panigale R again and I thank the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team for the opportunity. It will be great to work with the team again. Compared to the Phillip Island round, organised pretty much at the last minute, this time I’ve had the chance to train and prepare myself properly. I’m really motivated and feeling ready; I can’t wait to get back on track!”

Davide Giugliano continues with his recovery, which requires him to rest for another few weeks before recommencing with a measured training programme. He aims to be back on his Panigale R in time for the fifth championship round of Imola, taking place from 8-10 May.

No decision has yet been taken by the Italian squad with regard to the substitution of Giugliano for the rounds of Aragón (12 April) and Assen (19 April).

WSBK – Ducati unveils new livery

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Ducati has officially launched its 2015 WSBK team, complete with a new livery for its bikes.

The most successful manufacturer in WSBK history – with 14 riders’ titles and 17 manufacturers’ titles – has its eyes firmly set on race wins after a barren couple of seasons campaigning the Panigale. After unveiling the livery of the factory Ducati Panigale R bikes, team riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano spoke about the positive results seen in the recent Portimao and Jerez tests and their expectations for the 2015 championship.

Chaz Davies said: “We’ve worked very well over the winter and I think that we’re on the right track so to speak. I’m very confident about the upcoming season, and I am sure that we can fight for the positions that count every weekend. The new livery of the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team Panigale R bikes is really great and very aggressive and now I cannot wait to get on track in Australia for the first races of the 2015 season!”

Davide Giugliano was equally upbeat. The Italian hard charger said: “We’ve made good progress during the winter tests, especially last week in Jerez where I had strong pace and felt already totally at ease on my bike. I must thank all of the guys in Ducati, because they have worked tirelessly over the winter in order to provide us with these fantastic Panigale R bikes. As an Italian rider, with an Italian team, it will be my honour to race with the Ducati for a second consecutive season; we’ll be doing all we can to bring home the best possible results for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team.”

Luigi Dall’Igna, general manager of Ducati Corse, welcomed the new regulations. He said: “The new regulations introduced for the 2015 season will bring Superbikes very close to production models in terms of preparation and also introduce a price-cap for some technical components. In this difficult economic period, I believe that this is the right path to take with a view to keeping costs under control and levelling the playing field. Our aim for 2015, which is shared with our new partner Aruba, at this point can only be one: to win again and be protagonists in the championship this season.”

Ernesto Marinelli, Ducato Corse Superbike project director, said: “The 2015 Panigale R Superbike is an evolved version of the one we raced in 2014. We have come into line with the new technical regulations and, as well as the normal suspension, brakes and chassis upgrades, the three areas where we have made the biggest changes are the new electronics, the engine and the new exhaust system, which has come from the collaboration with Akrapovič. The electronics package has been totally revised, also because a €8000 price-cap has been introduced by the regulations.

“Many components have been changed, in particular the sensors, including the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) platform, which is now in common with production bikes, as well as the new Magneti Marelli MLE, which costs less than a third of the one used last year. Despite the significant difference in price, we have however been able to maintain virtually the same management strategies and update them with new settings. The engine is not as highly tuned as before and is closer to the production engine of the new Panigale R, using the same pistons, but in any case we have succeeded in maintaining the same maximum power output as the 2014 bike.”

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