One thing is certain. Anyone who thought it would be a procession was forced to change their minds. There was no shortage of passing and contact during the few laps of the Race of Champions, before rain fell and put a premature end to the show.
There were tricks being pulled even before the riders reached turn 1. “I've realised some of these guys are bastards– Tito Rabat begins with a laugh - Miller and Fores for example. Before the race, I asked them if they used launch control for the start or not and everyone said yes. So I used it and found myself last. Aside from that, it was a lot of fun”. Tito ran a great race though, finishing second behind Michele Pirro. “With two Spaniards on the podium, at least an Italian won, and I promised Tito that next time we're on track together at Valencia I'll let him win - smiles Pirro - This WDW gives us an energy boost that we'll take to the racetrack".
One of the stars of the show was Marco Melandri, who battled it out with Jack Miller. “He was quicker through the slow turns and I in the fast sections, I was ready to pass him when they stopped the race. A pity because i made a change for the race that didn't help. Pirro won without ever having ridden this bike (he laughs); I had a shock early on as I almost took down Simeon”.
The Italian is another rider who has still to sign a contract for next season, something that doesn't appear forthcoming this weekend either. “We're evaluating the situation. First Chaz needs to be sorted, then it will be my turn; we'll have a test with many new things soon and we'll see, but I'd like to go away on holiday knowing what's in store for the future”.
Another man who took centre stage during the race was Jack Miller, impressed by the passion of the Ducatista community. “Last night the parade was amazing, I really saw the fans' enthusiasm. Today I thought I'd be strong but then Rabat showed me that wasn't the case”. The Australian still closed behind his current team-mate, or rather Danilo Petrucci. “I was taking it easy at the start but I quickly realised that they were all fast and up for it (he smiles), I had fun though”.
Meanwhile, the situation for Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo is very different. It's not Dovi's first WDW and the fans love for him continues to grow; the only negative was perhaps finishing behind Michael Rinaldi. “It's great to see so much red, and even though this isn't my first time I'm always struck by how passionate the fans are. The race was a bit crazy, with no shortage of pushing and shoving”.
The fans crowded round Jorge Lorenzo too, a sign that the Ducati community is perhaps sad to say farewell to him. “This is my first and last WDW but it's something special, only possible in Ducati; I tried to enjoy every minute and this year I have falled in love with the brand, having won races. I'm sorry to leave, the Ducati family is treating my very well”.
Photocredits Marzio Bondi