After taking the opening race of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship yesterday, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team did the double at Phillip Island (Australia) with Marco Melandri. The race itself went down to the wire and was decided by only 0.021 seconds. It's Melandri's 22nd win in WorldSBK, which makes him the most successful Italian in the production-based series. Chaz Davies, on the other hand, rode a strong yet unlucky race, and was forced to retire after crashing during lap 12 at turn 9 while he was in the lead.
Race 2 was characterized by a mandatory tire change, a decision taken by Race Direction for safety reasons, which prompted the riders to pit-in from lap 10 to 12. At the end of lap 11, both Davies and Melandri had a near perfect pit-stop and rejoined the race in first and second position respectively. While trying to build a gap at the front, however, the Welshman crashed out, while Melandri fought in a group of three riders at the top, making the difference down the stretch.
After one round, Melandri (50 points) and Davies (16 points) are respectively first and seventh in the championship. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will be back on track on March 23-25 at Buriram (Thailand) for the second round of 2018.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1st
"It's been a crazy race. The tire change made it impossible to come up with a strategy, as many riders could be fast for 10 laps. It was a big fight, with many aggressive maneuvers. We still tried to look after the tires after the pit-stop, and in the last five laps we found our rhythm. Towards the end, it was difficult to pass Rea under braking so I decided to focus on the final sprint and catch the slipstream out of the last corner, in which we were particularly fast, and the plan worked. I'm super happy and can't wait to race at Buriram."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – DNF
"Honestly, I felt great and I thought we had some margin in the first half of the race. Then, after we changed tires, I still thought we could go for the win. I think it's the first time I've ever pushed so hard on a completely new tire, as we never leave the pits and go from zero to 100 percent like that, so maybe we took it just a bit too far and made a mistake even though it was quite late in the corner when I lost the front. This year there will be plenty of riders capable of fighting for the podium, like we've seen here, so it'll be interesting. We'll regroup and be ready to fight at Buriram."
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
"We've worked really well to preserve the tires over the entire race distance, but we managed to be competitive also with a pit-stop. Marco once again rode an amazing race, while Chaz was unlucky because he could also have fought for the win but we're sure he'll bounce back soon. We're pleased with the performance shown here in Australia, which motivates us to work even harder at home to put both Marco and Chaz in the condition to express their full potential."