The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team resumed action on track today at Phillip Island (Australia) for the first free-practice sessions of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship. With a new format, which translates into three 40-minute sessions, the riders practiced in the wet early on, but then took advantage of improving weather conditions. Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies finished respectively in 6th and 9th position in the combined rankings, both gaining direct access to Superpole 2.
In particular, Melandri worked with positive feedback on the weight distribution on his Panigale R to improve stability on the main straight, posting a 1:30.973 in FP2 and then focusing on tire wear. Davies, on the other hand, was one of the few riders capable to improve his lap times in FP3, in conditions theoretically more similar to those of the race, posting a 1:31.515.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action Saturday at 09:40 local time (CET +10) for the fourth and last free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1, scheduled to start at 15:00.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:30.973 (6th)
"Today was positive, despite the erratic weather. I like this track a lot, and it suits our bike. I feel in great shape and, together with the team, we worked with more ease, given the year of experience under our belts. The Panigale R has improved since the tests. Tomorrow, it'll be crucial to ride a fast lap in Superpole and then find a pace that allows us to manage the tires better than the others. Many riders can be fast, but only a few will be competitive towards the end, once the tires drop."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:31.505 (9th)
"Overall, it's been a positive day. The final lap times probably don't show the full picture here, and even though ninth position isn't exciting on paper, I feel happier than after the tests. We stepped forward a little bit despite the fact that we still have room for improvement. FP3 wasn't too smooth, we had a couple of issues that kept us in the garage for a while, but we're going in the right direction. Also, physically we seemed to have turned a corner. We're probably better off in a race situation than what we are on the time sheets."