After a tough Friday, being half a second off the pace and in sixth place overall, Chaz Davies and his Aruba Ducati team made improvements that saw the Weshman score the Laguna WorldSBK Superpole win and then go second in race one, leading for almost seven laps from the otherwise dominant Jonathan Rea.
A mistake into the braking zone for the Corkscrew corner saw Davies run wide, Rea tuck inside to lead, and then ease away.
Even if Davies had not made even that small mistake, Rea would have won, even if Davies had set a new lap record of 1’23.041, on lap two. “I would have finished second anyway,” said Chaz. “I just lost the front, had a tiny bit of lock on the brake. I was trying to understand the front tyre because it is not one I have raced with that much (a development SC1, called a W0657).
"I do not know if it was front lock or just a bit of movement with it up the hill. So I did not lean on it I just let the brakes go. I maybe just needed to understand the front tyre more, in these temperatures more than anything else. But it did not change the outcome of our race. We just missed a little bit in other areas, to be able to fight Johnny. It was not a lot – a gnat’s nothing here and a gnat’s nothing there. He had to work for it, a bit.”
Davies tried all he could, with himself and his bike, to stay in contention ad hoped that something would change for Rea. “I was trying to change my style a bit in the race, try to figure out the bike, and change the mapping quite a lot, to see what I could get out of the bike, without making mistakes. To see if Johnny would drop or anything like that. But I would get a tenth here, a tenth there. It wasn’t to be.”
A whopping increase in ambient and especially the +50°C track temperatures caught a few people on the hop. Including Davies.
“We did not expect the track temperature to be that high,” he confirmed. “It was proper hot. And probably hotter than we have race here in Laguna. So to do a 1’23.flat on the third lap I could not believe the lap time when I came over the line. I thought , “Whoa, maybe that’s a bit too fast for the conditions.” I maybe need to keep things in check a little bit with 22 laps to run. So I did not expect it to be that. Probably the warmest we have had here.”
Davies’s run wide into the Corkscrew was partly because he was trying something he had limited reference to.
“I wanted to run the front tyre I used in the race,” he confirmed. “It was just one that we had not really raced with before. We used it once last year. So it was a bit of an unknown - roll the dice and see how it goes. It was OK, not fantastic for the last half race. But it was good data, a bit of learning process. I think it is a good tyre, we just need to figure it out.”
Davies was not on his best form on Friday due to the way his bike, felt to him, but he made up for it with Superpole and then a podium that was probably his best possible result given the pace of Rea.
His team has also gone a little bit back to go forward.
“In general the bike has been, for quite a few races now, really nervous, quite nervous, and we have a severe lack of grip. I have tried to get the boys to take steps back. It is not that the bike has changed that much but the feeling has changed a lot - and I am not he only guy saying it. Yesterday was a little bit of still finding our feet a little bit. Trying to get the package to be a little bit more calm.”