Welshman impresses in front of infatuated Italian fans
Round Five of the championship took place around the historical circuit of Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, where the tight and twisty nature of the circuit makes it a difficult one for riders to perfect. The home of Ducati – with their headquarters just two hours down the road in Bologna – all eyes were on Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) to see if the pair could impress in front of their home fans. With a strong record around Imola and the heat building, it was an intense weekend in Italy.
Davies secured pole position ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), and the Welsh rider was able to get a stunning start off the line and never looked back. Rea led the chasing pack of riders around the 4.936km circuit, but it was impossible to slow Davies down in front of the Ducatisti. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) suffered a monster crash from turns 17 -18, which meant track conditions were not suitable for racing and as a result the red flags were waved, and the race was brought to an early end. Six seconds ahead of his rivals, Davies secured his second win of the season in what would be a stunning weekend for the Welshman.
Race two saw Sykes, Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) tackle Imola from the front row of the grid, but the race was red flagged in the early stages following track conditions at turn 16. As the issue with Ayrton Badovini’s bike was cleared away and the track was ready to race, action was back underway. Davies picked his way through the pack around the notoriously difficult circuit to overtake, and took the lead from Sykes on lap seven. Never looking back, he secured his first double victory of 2017 ahead of Kawasaki duo Rea and Sykes, who’s on track battle kept fans entertained in the latter stages of the race.
Davies’ stunning weekend around Imola was enough to secure his status as a championship contender, and as the paddock headed to Donington Park it was shaping up to be a tense fight.