Both Aruba.it riders off the podium for first time in 20 races
It wasn’t an easy Sunday – or weekend, for that matter – for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team. For the first time this season, neither rider was on the podium at the end of Race 2, a streak that went back to Misano 2017, Race 1. It was also the first time in 2018 that a Ducati didn’t meet the checkered flag first in one of the Round’s races. A disappointing weekend, with just Chaz Davies’ (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) third place in Race 1 a small silver lining.
Starting back from row 3 in Race 2, Davies found trouble early on, having to move wide on the first corner. “I found myself in the wrong place at Turn 1. It was shuffling a bit to the outside, so I took the safe option to jump off the track and come back on, because everything was bottlenecking up”, he explains. The problems didn’t end there: “I started to find my rhythm, started moving forward, but I just had a problem all race with the rear. Didn’t have that much grip, couldn’t get the thing turned, and then towards the mid-to-end of the race I just had severe vibration, didn’t know if I’d damaged the tyre”.
Despite this, Davies wasn’t completely displeased with the weekend’s results: “We’ve obviously lost ground in the championship this weekend, but it was sort of expected. I felt like we did a good job yesterday, struggled a bit today, but overall, I’m semi-happy with the weekend’s work. I think we can build on this and I feel like we can learn from quite a few mistakes this weekend”.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), meanwhile, was off the pace nearly the entire weekend. Free Practice 3 was the only time Melandri stood in contention for a top-3 finish, as from the Tissot Superpole 2 to the end of Race 2 he was never close to the leading positions. In Race 2 he fell as low as 11th at one point from a front row start, before managing to scratch back a seventh-place finish, over 20 seconds off the leader.
The Italian was clearly disappointed at the end: “We tried to change our setup to improve our problems from yesterday, but indeed we made it even worse. It was so difficult to ride today. It’s difficult to be happy, but I stay positive because the team and Ducati guys are working hard to try to help me to fix the problem. We know that once we can drive well, we can fight for the podium and for the win. It’s not an easy time for us, but we don’t give up”.
He was caught in the mix of a thrilling battle for sixth – perhaps not the fight Melandri wanted to be in, but an exciting one nonetheless. “Even if I wasn’t fighting for the best position, I was trying to do it with the same energy I use when I’m fighting for a win”, he says. “But I couldn’t win my battle with Torres, he was riding very well and I was struggling a lot in many areas”. A home race at “beautiful” Imola, might be the spark the Italian needs to revitalise his battle for a first WorldSBK title.
Watch the Ducatis prepare for their home return, with all the action leading up to Imola available thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.