After another successful season, which finished with 8 wins overall and the runner-up spot in the championship for Chaz Davies, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team is ready to take on a new challenge in the 2018 WorldSBK Championship. In Aruba's high-tech Global Cloud Data Center in Ponte San Pietro (Italy), the team presented the riders and bike for the upcoming season, which will begin as usual at the end of February in Phillip Island (Australia).
Now in their fourth year together on track, Aruba.it and Ducati so far have been strong contenders on the world stage – with 24 wins and 74 podiums overall – and the goal for 2018 is the title. Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri will once again ride the Panigale R on track for its final challenge ahead of next year’s debut of the Panigale V4. The duo has shown its prowess with 31 podiums overall and 8 wins in 2017. Davies, twice runner-up in the past three years and a true icon for all Ducati fans, will go for the only missing trophy in his collection, that is, the Championship. Melandri, who showed steady improvements during his first season on the twin-cylinder, which saw him claim a memorable win in front of his home crowd at Misano, wants to take advantage of last year’s experience to achieve even bigger goals.
During the event, the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team was also presented. After claiming the European Superstock 1000 title, the squad is ready to move up to WorldSBK with Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who will participate in all European rounds.
The presentation was streamed live on www.arubaracing.com, allowing all the fans to follow the event. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will now head to Australia, where on February 19-20 the riders will take part in the pre-season tests ahead of the first round of 2018, scheduled for the following weekend, on February 23-25, on the same track.
Stefano Cecconi, Aruba S.p.A. CEO and Team Principal
"We're ready to take on a new challenge with great enthusiasm. The first goal is always to do better than the previous season, and this means we have to aim for the number one spot, also to finish in the best possible way the era of the Panigale R before the V4 debuts on track. Chaz and Marco have all the necessary qualities to race constantly at the top, so it's up to us to give them a chance to fully express their potential. Also, we decided to move to SBK with the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team and Michael Ruben Rinaldi, a young rider with plenty of potential. We'll try our best to be protagonists, both in the present and the future."
Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Director
"The level of performance reached with the Panigale R, also thanks to the synergy between the MotoGP and SBK projects at Ducati, made us a stable title contender over the past three years. This is what we aim to be in what will be the last year on track with the V-twin, which we want to honour with the highest achievement. Development never stops, and the new rules, in particular the engine-rev limit, represent an exciting new challenge. Our factory riders, Chaz and Marco, have proved their worth time and time again, so we'll do our best to put both in a condition to fight for the title."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7)
"It will be an emotional season. This is my fifth year on track with the Panigale R. I've won several races with this bike, which triggers many special memories, so it will be an honour to properly send it off before the Panigale V4 debuts on track. The injury sustained last November has kept me busy during the winter break. I worked hard to make sure I'm ready for the season opener. The new rules for sure will make it more interesting for the public. We just need to do our homework but I don't see any reasons why we shouldn't be as competitive as in the past. We're working hard and there are upgrades in the pipeline for Phillip Island. We're ready to battle."
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33)
"This season I can count on one year of experience with the Panigale R, and I want to make it count, especially in tough times. Last year we clinched many podium finishes but in some cases we found ourselves struggling and that's the first thing we need to improve. I think the new regulations will bring more riders into the podium fight, so we need to be more consistent. We know which areas we need to focus on, so we only have to get our heads down to it. We want to achieve bigger goals."
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21)
"After seizing the title in the Superstock 1000 European Championship, the chance to debut in WorldSBK is a dream come true. Having raced with this team and the Panigale R for the past two years is a good opportunity, but in the top class several variables change and the competition is tougher than ever. Our priority is to gain experience and try to learn as much as possible to improve in every aspect. If we manage to do that, the results will come."