The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team enjoyed a strong start at Imola (Italy), home of the fifth round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship and the squad's "home race", as Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri posted the first and third time respectively. Both riders finished each session in the top three, and the Welshman was able to mount one final attack on used tires to post a 1:46.686, with the Italian only 0.440 seconds behind.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi also had a positive first day with the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team. Despite a small technical issue in FP1, the young Italian managed to progressively climb the rankings to take tenth provisional position. All three riders thus gained direct access to Superpole 2. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team and the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team will resume action on May 12th at 08:45 for the last free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1, scheduled to start at 13:00 local time.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:46.686 (1st)
"I'm really happy to have finished day one like that. We sort of let the track come to us, without rushing things or making too many changes. The plan seems to have worked quite well, and we still have room for improvement and changes to come up with ahead of tomorrow. So, overall I'm pretty satisfied even though we're still looking for the last extra tenths. At this level, it's a small-step process. At the moment, Rea and I seem to have something extra but you never what's going to happen come race time."
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:47.126 (3rd)
"It was a good day for me. The test we did in Brno gave us a lot of answers and we did a good job with the team today, working with a more stable bike and being able to focus only on race pace. The race isn't going to be easy because Rea and Davies seem to have a slightly better pace, but hopefully we'll be able to make some improvements overnight. Also, the home crowd always gives us extra horsepower. I'm sure the first few laps will be crucial to stay at the front, so we need to be ready."
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21) – 1:47.597 (10th)
"I'm quite happy with how today went since we gained direct access to Superpole 2, even though it wasn't easy. As I never rode a Superbike here, we struggled to find a competitive setup at the very beginning. In the afternoon, the feeling improved significantly and we managed to be more consistent. We still need to work and FP4 will be crucial to be ready for Superpole, but I'm confident."
Weekend schedule (CET):
Saturday (May 12th)
08:45 - 09:05 SBK FP4
10:30 - 10:45 SBK Superpole 1
10:55 - 11:10 SBK Superpole 2
13:00 SBK Race 1
Sunday (May 13th)
09:35 - 09:50 SBK Warm-up
13:00 SBK Race 2