The first exam had various unknowns, but in the end it was passed. Chaz Davies and Ducati leave Australia with just a ten-point gap behind Rea and Kawasaki. Now they will need to focus on the Thai round at Buriram. The track is not the best fit for the characteristics of the Panigale, but the red bike is definitely on an upward trend after the performance at Phillip Island. Confidence for the Chang round is clearly visible on the face of Ernesto Marinelli.
This time you started on the right foot.
“Let’s just say that the first race of the season is always particular and there is no lack of unknowns. Compared to a year ago, we were able to be consistent in both races, taking two valuable second place finishes with Chaz. Marco was also fast and his podium in Race 2 confirms that. It was a pity about Saturday. I am sure that he would have been in the top three positions.”
At the end of the race, Davies said that the circuit has a big influence on the small gaps.
“I agree with Chaz. Phillip Island is a track where the riders are always very close in the race and nothing changed this time. Tyre deterioration also had a particular influence. It proved to be an abnormal race, where no one felt like dragging the group.”
Davies rode a race of reason. Is this the consistency that is needed?
“Chaz demonstrated intelligence and consistency and that is what we need to aim for the title. He tried to stay close to Rea, but the Kawasaki still has something more than the Panigale on the straight. In Australia, Johnny was able to count on great potential and it showed. However, we are right there, just 10 points away.”
Speed is the main stumbling block for Ducati. Is that still the case?
“There has been an improvement and the gap has closed between us and the Kawasaki. I am still convinced that this will be a tight Championship, where we will need to work race by race. Every point will be extremely important.”
Melandri took his first podium. Did he surprise you?
“I would say no, because he had found the right confidence on the Panigale straight away, highlighting what his talent is. The disappointment about what happened in Race 1 remains. I am convinced that he had what it took to stay in the top three positions.”
Thailand does not suit your characteristics very well. Will you need to be on the defence?
“This will be another one of those tracks where we are definitely not the favourites, but we saw that on the straights the Ducati is not that far behind. Thailand does not frighten us. Compared with last year, we will be more competitive.”
Melandri does not know the Thai track. How much of an influence will that be?
“I think we will see him battling with the leaders again, just like in Australia. It may be his first time there, but the track is not that complicated to learn.”
Saturday, at the end of Race 1, there was a bit of a dispute between Rea and Davies over the speed of the Kawasaki and the Ducati. What did you think of that?
“I think it was an exchange of opinions, partially dictated by the adrenaline of the race. Each one expressed his own point of view, defending his own opinion.”