After a two-month break, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team took it back to the track at Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) for a two-day test that officially launched the 2018 season. The team worked intensively to make the most of the two sessions, for a total of 12 hours of track time, making several comparisons and collecting valuable data for the development of the 2018-spec Panigale R, especially in light of the new rev limitations for the engine.
In particular, Marco Melandri clocked 132 laps with a personal best of 1:39.754. Chaz Davies, who was coming back from an injury sustained at the Spanish track last November and is still getting back to full shape, made 129 laps and posted a 1:40.704.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi also enjoyed his first official test with the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team, which will participate to all the European rounds of the WorldSBK championship this season. The Italian rookie showed constant improvements throughout the test to finish with a 1:40.862. All the lap times were set on race tyres.
The teams will now head to Portimão (Portugal) for another two-day test, scheduled for January 28-29.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33)
"It's been a positive test overall, even though we still have plenty of work to do. We improved in certain aspects, but we still need to make more progress. We worked on race tyres, and with these the gap isn't big, but we want to make other steps forward. In particular, we need to focus on the engine, for which we hope to have some technical upgrades before the season opener, and on the transmission. It will be interesting anyway to try the current spec of the bike on a such a different track as Portimão."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7)
"The knee and shoulder are still not in perfect conditions since the injury last November, but anyway I knew before coming here that there's still room for improvement physically. We got through most of the work and managed to test some important stuff, including something we didn't get to try here in November, with some positive feedback. Unfortunately Jerez isn't the best track to evaluate some of the stuff we tried, it's been a bit of a struggle for me with the new surface. In terms of pace we're not far, but we need to improve on the single lap. We know where we need to get better, and we'll look for ways to do it in Portimão."
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21)
"Given that it was our first outing of 2018, it's been a good test for us. There's plenty of work to do. First, I need to learn and adapt to WorldSBK-spec Panigale R, which is very different from the Superstock I was used to. In these two days we made constant progress, but so did our opponents, and this class is particularly competitive. We can only improve, and that's what we'll try to do in Portimão."