The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team enjoyed a memorable performance at Phillip Island (Australia), home of the first round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship. Marco Melandri took an extraordinary victory in Race 1, his second with Ducati and first on the Australian track, and Chaz Davies put together a strong comeback to finish in third position.
Starting from third and fifth position, Melandri and Davies fought respectively in the first and second group early on. As the race progressed, the Italian erased the gap from Sykes at the top, taking the lead with five laps to go and defending his position until the checkered flag. The Welshman also gave a strong performance, coming back from sixth to third position in the second half of the race to take a podium that leaves him hopeful ahead of tomorrow.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action Sunday at 10:30 local time (CET +10) for a warm-up session ahead of Race 2, scheduled to start at 15:00.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1st
"It's been a fantastic race. Sykes got off to a strong start and it wasn't easy to follow him and Rea early on. As the race went on, I managed to cut the gap. Once in the lead, it wasn't easy anyway because the wind gusts were even stronger. The last lap seemed to last forever, but we hung on and brought home the victory. I want to thank the whole team for the hard work done throughout the winter. Tomorrow we'll need to get a blistering start from third row, and we can still improve some details, but I expect another solid race."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 3rd
"I'm really happy with this result. It's been a tough winter, so it's great to start the season on the podium. The race itself was different than usual here, everybody pushed hard from the very beginning. I had a fun battle with Forés and I didn't expect Rea to have whatever problem he ran into and drop back, but I seized the opportunity when it came. This morning I had a great feeling on used tires, but in the race we struggled a bit more, especially with the left side of the tire, and the bike moved a bit too much. Otherwise, I think we could have fought at the top. We've been improving session by session, and I'm happy with the bike now. The goal is to fight for the win tomorrow."
Stefano Cecconi, Aruba CEO and Team Principal
"There couldn't have been a better way to start the season. Marco showed once again his competitiveness on this track, taking advantage of one year of experience with the Panigale R to clinch an extraordinary win. Chaz rode a smart race, finishing strong to take a podium that gives us hope after a winter break made more complicated by injuries. We want to achieve great results once more tomorrow with both our riders."