The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team officially kicked off its 2018 campaign at Phillip Island with the first day of pre-season tests ahead of Round 1 of the WorldSBK Championship. The team enjoyed a positive debut in what was the first of a two-day test, as shown by the provisional best time set by Marco Melandri. Davies, who finished in 10th position, preferred to adopt a progressive approach given the less than optimal track conditions caused by strong wind gusts, especially to avoid potential setbacks in his recovery from an injury sustained in late 2017.
Melandri clocked 63 laps in total, posting his personal best in the morning session with a 1:30.726 then focusing on the pace with used tires. The Italian, who was the only rider able to break the 1:31 wall so far, confirmed his penchant for the Australian track where he already took five podiums in his career. Davies got progressively in tune with his 2018-spec Panigale R, making several evaluations and finishing with a personal best of 1:32.054.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati will resume action tomorrow at 09:10 local time (CET +10) for the second and final day of pre-season tests ahead of the opening round, scheduled for February 23-25 on the same track.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:30.726 (1st)
"It's been a really positive day overall, despite the less than ideal weather conditions. The wind was really strong and unpredictable in the afternoon, so it wasn't possible to further improve the lap times, but we worked well with the team and we immediately found a good feeling with the bike. Having evaluated many components in the previous tests, we were finally able to focus more on performance. A year of experience with the Panigale R also represents an advantage, especially when it comes to the electronics. The races will be a different matter anyway, so we need to stay focused."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:32.054 (10th)
"We tried quite a lot of things today and we have a general idea for tomorrow to further refine what felt good and what didn't. We still need to combine our package a little bit but, considering that the conditions weren't ideal, I think we achieved quite a lot. Physically I feel better, so I'm really happy about that. You never want to do anything stupid and get caught out or make mistakes on the first day of testing here. We basically used only two sets of tires, it wasn't about going out for a quick lap time in the end, but rather to understand the package. Our first priority is to have a bike that can consistently be a reference in every circuit."