Race 1 of the 10th round of the WorldSBK Championship, held at Portimão (Portugal), delivered strong results for the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team. Marco Melandri conquered a brilliant second place, his seventh podium of the year, starting from first row. Chaz Davies mounted a heroic comeback to finish fourth despite a sore right shoulder, which was injured twice during the summer break, and a start from fourth row.
The Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team also enjoyed a positive outing with Michael Ruben Rinaldi who, after qualifying in 11th position, fought hard to finish second among "Independent" riders and ninth overall. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team and the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team will be back on track tomorrow at 10:10 local time (CET -1) for a final warm-up session ahead of Race 2, which is scheduled to start at 15:15.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 2nd
"Second place was the best we could achieve today. I knew Rea's pace was a bit better, but I had a good start and stayed with him for a few laps. I wanted to try and pass him to break his rhythm, but it just wasn't possible. He was faster in some corners, I was faster in others. However, after a while I started to struggle a lot in the slow corners and it wasn't possible to follow him, but at least I was already away from the chasing group. Tomorrow we'll try to improve stability. Then we'll need to have a strong start from third row and make some quick passes. Anyway, I expect another fun race."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 4th
"I had a great start, then it came up on me a little bit. There was a bit of pushing in turn 1, so I stayed cautious and held the inside line, which paid off. The first corners were crucial, as I came out in sixth place. I was trying to hang with VD Mark and recover from the front, but we struggled with turning a little bit. Also, in the last five laps I took it a little bit easier physically, knowing that I could just hold position. Overall I'm really, really happy. The feeling on the bike keeps getting better after each session. I was hoping for a top 8, so to come away with 4th and start from pole position tomorrow is much better than what I expected."
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21) – 9th
"It's been race characterized by ups and downs. The positive side is that, in the second part of the race, we were fast and the feeling with the bike was really good. However, we struggled a bit with a full fuel tank early on, in the crucial phases to stay with the front. Even at the very end we weren't perfect on used tires. So, we need to focus on the first and last laps for tomorrow's race. If we manage to be more consistent overall, we can do better than today. We know where to work on, and I feel confident."
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
"It's been a positive Race 1, in which we proved our competitiveness on this track. Marco rode with great determination, fighting for the win almost until the end and scoring a brilliant second place in difficult, hot conditions. Chaz gifted us with a memorable comeback from fifth row despite not being in his best shape physically. That said, we're determined to score even better results in Race 2 and we'll work hard as ever to allow both riders to be more competitive tomorrow."
Weekend schedule (CET -1):
Sunday (September 16th)
10:10 - 10:25 SBK Warm-up
15:15 SBK Race 2