The Racing - Ducati team back in action at Magny Cours: Davies 7th and Melandri 8th in Friday's free-practice

The Racing - Ducati team resumed action today at Magny Cours (France), home of the 11th round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship, to begin the last European outing of the season. In warm, sunny weather, the riders were able to move forward with the work on the setup ahead of the races, showing constant progress. In time sheets characterized by particularly narrow gaps, with eleven riders separated by only six tenths of a second, Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri finished in 7th and 8th position respectively, divided by only 4 thousandths of a second. 

Davies, who still isn't in optimal shape after a double shoulder injury, was able to take about seven tenths off throughout the day. Melandri showed good competitiveness right away after missing FP1 due to a technical problem, also gaining direct access to Superpole 2. 

Michael Ruben Rinaldi also put himself in the limelight with the Racing - Junior Team, finishing sixth overall – matching Chaz Davies' time – and first among Independent riders. The Racing - Ducati team and the Racing - Junior Team will resume action Saturday, September 29, at 08:45 (CET) for one last free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1, which is scheduled to start at 13:00.  

Chaz Davies ( Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:37.710 (7th)
"We eased into the day, trying to get everything together progressively. In the last lap I finally pushed a bit harder, and the bike responded pretty well. The priority was to get straight into Superpole 2, which we did, and now we just need to improve the setup a little bit. The shoulder feels a bit better, and the adrenaline can work wonders during the race. So, if we manage to make the improvements we need, we'll be able to ride a strong race tomorrow. There are a few areas we need to work on but, all in all, I feel kind of optimistic and confident ahead of tomorrow." 

Marco Melandri ( Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:37.714 (8th)
"All in all, we can be quite happy. We worked a lot on race pace, especially targeting the first laps, which I think will be crucial, so I think we still have a good bit of room for improvement in terms of raw speed. We weren't able to make the most of a fresh tire in FP3, because we tried a setup change that turned out not to be correct, and we didn't use another one in the final minutes. Rea is still the benchmark at the moment but, if we manage to be more consistent under braking, we can put up a challenge."

Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing - Junior Team #21) – 1:37.710 (6th)
"It was a positive day for us, for sure. I'm quite happy with the work we have done. To finish in P6, close to the top guys, is a good result. Missing FP2 due to a technical problem made it a bit more difficult, because what we need is first and foremost to get laps in the bag and gain experience. But, we reacted quickly and stayed focused, improving quite a bit in FP3. Anyway, we have to improve our pace for the race because we're in a very tight group of riders, so we'll see." 

Weekend schedule (CET):
Saturday (September 29th)
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 (September 30th)
10:10 - 10:25 SBK Warm-up
15:15 SBK Race 2