Davies retires from WorldSBK: a glance back at a glittering career

Thursday, 23 September 2021 16:09 GMT

From being one of the youngest World Championship riders to a WorldSBK superstar, Chaz Davies has seen it all

The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship may have seen one of the closest-fought titles in the history of the Championship, but it was the last for Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven). The Welshman retired from World Superbike action at the end of the season, bringing a close to ten seasons of racing in the fastest production-based Championship in the world. Having been three times a runner-up in the Championship, a World Supersport Champion and a 32-time WorldSBK race winner, Chaz Davies has been one of the main characters in the history of the class. It’s time to look back at quite how successful his career was, even if he missed out on the WorldSBK title.

FIRST SIGHT: but he’d already got plenty of experience

Davies first debuted in the World Superbike paddock back in 2009 with the ParkinGO Triumph in WorldSSP, coming over from the USA where he was a Supersport race winner, having previously been the youngest ever Grand Prix rider to compete in a full season, aged just 15 back in 2002. He participated in three WorldSSP races in 2009 before making a full switch to the class with the same team in 2010. Finishing fourth at the end of the season and with four podiums on what was inferior machinery, Davies and ParkinGO moved to Yamaha for 2011, a change that gave Davies his first and only World Championship. Six wins and eight podiums saw him take the title by some 50 points over David Salom, dominating the season and earning himself a place on the 2012 WorldSBK grid. 

THE WorldSBK JOURNEY: Aprilia and BMW get a star

Despite a slow start to his rookie season in WorldSBK which saw just six points from eight races, Davies adapted well to the Aprilia RSV4 1000 from Donington Park onwards, breaking into the top ten before a career-first podium came at MotorLand Aragon in third – just the start of a love affair with the track. Davies was a race winner before the season was out as he took Nurburgring honours; he finished ninth overall and had a new project on the horizon for 2013. Joining the GoldBet BMW outfit and partnering Marco Melandri, Davies’ enjoyed a breakthrough year, taking a stunning double at Aragon during round two. Four more podiums, including one win, would follow and Davies would secure a place inside the top five in the end of year standings. However, a third different manufacturer awaited Davies in 2014, the one that he’d become synonymous with in WorldSBK. 

DAVIES AND DUCATI: the biggest rivals to Jonathan Rea

After struggling in 2013 and its debut year, the Ducati Panigale V-Twin saw Davies aboard it in 2014 and the Welshman would help develop the bike into a contender. He put the bike on the podium for the first time at Imola in 2014, a double second place giving the Ducatisti something to cheer about. Two more podiums came but no win, leaving Davies a solid sixth in the standings. 2015 however would be a different story, as he started the season with a double podium at Phillip Island before cruising to a first win at Aragon, the first victory for the Ducati Panigale. A double at Laguna Seca and a heroic win in Race 2 at Sepang, denying Kawasaki new-recruit Jonathan Rea his first title chance, Davies was now a serious threat and after 18 podiums, finished as runner-up to Rea in the standings.

2016 saw him slip to third in the end of season standings but take a lot more wins; five wins in 2015 compared to 11 in 2016. Notable wins included the double at Imola, Ducati’s first double at the circuit since Carlos Checa back in 2012, and also an inspired tyre gamble at Magny-Cours in Race 1, where he opted for intermediate tyres whilst others went on wets and were later forced to pit. Six wins at the end of the season and scoring more points than his competitors, Davies once again had good pace. In 2017, he once again showed more flashes of brilliance, with a first win of the year coming in a head-to-head final lap battle at Aragon in Race 2 with Jonathan Rea, one of many last lap duels the two would be engaged in. Another Imola double and further wins at the Euro Speedway Lausitz, Davies didn’t have an answer for Rea’s consistency, but did return to runner-up overall. 

NEW ERA: Davies and Ducati move to a V4 

2018 would turn out to be the last year of the Ducati Panigale V-Twin and in its sixth year, the bike wasn’t quite as competitive with Davies only managing to take two wins, although he remained in second place overall. The Ducati Panigale V4 R was next up in 2019 and Davies struggled to adapt to the bike like his then-teammate Alvaro Bautista had; Bautista storming to 11 race wins in the opening 11 races whilst Davies only had two third places from the same time frame. However, his grit and determination saw him back on top of the podium in emotional fashion in Race 2 at Laguna Seca, his only win of the year, putting him sixth at the end of the season.

Enduring another tricky start to the campaign, 2020 saw Davies take a first podium at Jerez in Race 2, but he would be more consistent in the second half of the season. He would score more points than anyone else in the final nine races as race wins in Race 2 at Catalunya and in Race 2 at Estoril propelled him to third in the Championship standings, with the latter win proving to be emotional. However, he’d already been confirmed as leaving the team, being replaced by Michael Ruben Rinaldi. In the end, it would be a straight swap and Davies joined Team GoEleven for the 2021 campaign. In all, Chaz Davies was a factory Ducati hero, enjoying some memorable wins in his seven seasons with the team.

THE FINAL CHAPTER: not the end he deserved

However, it would be a season blighted by injury and despite taking a 99th podium in Race 2 at Estoril, a shoulder injury at Misano would derail his season before a heavy shunt with Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in the Tissot Superpole Race at Catalunya ruled Davies out of Jerez with two fractured ribs. Travelling to Jerez to announce his retirement from WorldSBK, Davies’ glittering career ends and despite not taking the WorldSBK title that eludes him, he was part of one of the biggest rivalries the Championship had seen, battling with Jonathan Rea, wearing his heart on his sleeve and winning plenty of fans. He did come back for the final two rounds, where he signed off on the race track.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Davies is a Ducati gem

So, what does Davies’ career look like in numbers? Well, for Ducati, he is their third most successful rider in terms of wins at 28, just Carl Fogarty on 59 and Troy Bayliss on 52 are ahead of him. 89 podiums for Ducati also put him third overall in the manufacturer’s stats, again only Fogarty on 100 and Bayliss on 94 in front of him. It’s the same story for fastest laps too, with Fogarty and Bayliss ahead on 46 and 35 respectively whilst Davies is on 34. In the overall win charts, Davies is seventh on 32, just one behind fellow Ducati star Troy Corser, whilst he is sixth in the podiums tally on 99.

Get ready for a dramatic 2022 with the WorldSBK VideoPass!