Ducati Finishes Second In WSBK Season Opener, One Rider Retires

Ducati at Phillip Island 2017 5 photos
Photo: Ducati
Ducati Team at Phillip Island WSBK 2017Ducati Team at Phillip Island WSBK 2017Ducati Team at Phillip Island WSBK 2017Ducati Team at Phillip Island WSBK 2017
The 2017 WorldSBK season opener at Phillip Island, Australia, brought bittersweet results for the Racing Ducati team. Chaz Davies rode a tactical race and finished second, only 0.042 seconds behind the leader, Jonathan Rea. His teammate, Marco Melandri, was forced to retire with seven laps to go after going off the track when battling an opponent.
Starting in the fourth and third positions on the grid, Davies and Meladri took the lead thanks to a blistering start and then constantly fought in the leading group. As it often happened in the past, the Australian track led to a hard, exciting race, with seven riders at the top and narrow gaps.

“We’ve made a good step forward for the long distance today, but the race itself was a bit of waiting game, as always here in Phillip Island,” Davies said after the race. “We had to look after the tires, playing cat and mouse, and it was a good show. I tried not to get caught too much in the battle and basically reacted to what was going on around me.”

However, the battle penalized Melandri, who was forced off the track at turn number two after disputing the same line with another rider. Conversely, Davies was able to play defense and wait until the final laps to attack, missing the victory only by 0.042 seconds.

“Since the race was pretty slow-paced and crowded at the top, I wanted to take my time and save the tires to try and pull away with Rea and Davies towards the end,” Melandri explained. “I passed Lowes at turn 1 and went a bit wide, but he changed direction earlier than usual at turn 2, cutting in front of me. I lost the front for a moment and had to pick the bike up, going off the track."

Superbike Project Director Ernesto Marinelli considers the Phillip Island race a strange one this year, as all the top riders were worried about tire wear and played defense, thus keeping the gaps very narrow, all contributing to a very unpredictable end result.
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