The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team took it back to the track at Donington (United Kingdom) for the sixth round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship. After three free-practice sessions, held in autumnal weather conditions – with just above 10 degrees in the air, cloudy skies and heavy rain until early afternoon – Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies posted the 10th and 16th provisional time respectively.
The Italian thus gained direct access to Superpole 2, while the Welshman – who crashed out at turn 1 and was taken to the medical centre for evaluation, which ruled out any significant injuries – will have to go through Superpole 1. Michael Ruben Rinaldi, at his first outing in the rain with the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team, finished in 24th position.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team and the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team will resume action Saturday, May 26th, at 08:45 local time (CET -1) for the last free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1, which is scheduled to start at 13:15 local time.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:29.275 (10th)
"Track conditions were really tricky today, and I didn't find a perfect feeling with the bike yet, so it's a combination of factors. Also, physically, last week I had a cold and today a headache. On track, we've been focusing on stability and we need to improve especially under braking and turning, because when the bike struggles to stop it's difficult to carry optimal corner speed. We also tried the bigger rear tire, but it caused some issues with the front so we went back to the standard one in the end, which was better but still not perfect. Now we'll analyze the data and come up with ideas for tomorrow."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:29.719 (16th)
"I was just getting into a rhythm in the dry, finding my pace and checking how the bike reacted a little bit, I didn't really push too much. I was actually slowing down on my way back to the pits, but I caught a wet patch and the rear locked. It was just one of those awkward crashes that sometimes happen. It's unfortunate that we missed some quality track time there. If tomorrow it'll be dry, it's not going to be helpful, but the bike felt somewhat OK initially, which is a positive. We've made steady improvements in the rain, but we'd need another step, which we have to try. If it's dry, we just need to make the most of FP4. We'll just wait and see what the weather does, and try to come out as prepared as we can."
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21) – 1:31.558 (24th)
"The feeling on the wet was quite good, while in the dry we struggled a bit more than what we expected. Compared with the other Ducati riders, we still have some extra things to improve. I hope tomorrow will be dry, because we have several ideas to try and it's exactly in these conditions that we need to make a step forward."
Weekend schedule (CET -1):
Saturday (May 26th)
09:00 - 09:20 SBK FP4
10:45 - 11:00 SBK Superpole 1
11:10 - 11:25 SBK Superpole 2
13:15 SBK Race 1
Sunday (May 27th)
09:45 - 10:00 SBK Warm-up
13:15 SBK Race 2