With 12 rounds in the books, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team started today the final act of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship, which is held under the floodlights at Losail (Qatar), the only track on the calendar to host night races. After three free-practice sessions, Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies are respectively seventh and ninth in the provisional rankings, and both will go directly into Superpole 2 tomorrow.
Melandri, after starting off with the right foot in FP1, focused his work on improving grip in a track that is historically difficult under this aspect due to its proximity with the desert. The Italian took a second and a half off his best time through the day and finished with a 1:57.924, +0.601 seconds from the top. Davies also centered his program on finding more grip, progressively improving his performance to finish just behind his teammate in ninth position (+0.763).
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action on Friday, October 26th, at 14:25 local time (CET +1) for one last free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1, scheduled to start respectively at 16:30 and 19:00.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:57.924 (7th)
"We worked hard together with the team, but unfortunately the start of our campaign has been a bit more difficult than what we expected. Today we struggled a bit, both with braking and corner speed, which penalized us a bit more compared with our rivals. Unfortunately, the track didn't improve as much as we expected throughout the day. Tomorrow, our priority will be to improve under braking. I don't expect an easy race, but we won't give up for sure."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:58.046 (9th)
"We're not there yet, but we're also not as far as what it looks like on paper. Here in Qatar, the track is always a bit dirty and dusty when we first start but, as tarmac conditions improved through the sessions, so did we. Perhaps our setup is better suited for conditions with more grip but, towards the end, I was starting to push a bit harder and the Panigale R responded well. Tomorrow the track will be cleaner, which will help us a lot, but we'll also need to focus on turning. We've been struggling a little bit in this aspect in the fastest parts of the track and I want to get off the side of the tire a bit quicker. We've been improving, but we want to make a bigger step ahead of the race."
Weekend schedule (CET +1):
Friday (October 26th)
14:25 - 14:45 SBK FP4
16:30 - 16:45 SBK Superpole 1
16:55 - 17:10 SBK Superpole 2
19:00 SBK Race 1
Saturday (October 27th)
15:30 - 15:45 SBK Warm-up
19:00 SBK Race 2