This summer has been a hot one for Ducati, and there's probably no better way to put an end to recent talk than by getting out on track. Things have changed dramatically since the last Laguna Seca round, Alvaro Bautista set to bag his bags and Scott Redding ready to take his place, but for now the focus is on the present.
A present that sees Alvaro Bautista battling to make up ground to Jonathan Rea, a big ask considering the 81-point deficit. A tough situation, aggravated by a shoulder problem that is not yet resolved.
"I’ve had a few more days to recover - comments Alvaro - but during this weekend we might have to change our approach and try and rest the shoulder on Friday to be in a position to tackle the races in the best possible condition.
It looks like being an uphill climb for the Spaniard in Portugal, though the recent tests could help Alvaro. “Luckily, the two tests I’ve done at this circuit between January and now will be a great help, we have some markers, I know the track better and as a result it will all be a bit easier.”
The situation is very different on the other side of the garage. Chaz Davies never had any doubts about staying in Ducati, but his confidence with the Panigale V4 has not come easily. His Race 2 win at Laguna Seca looked to be the shake-up the Welshman needed, as he now faces an important 'test bench'.
“After the summer break and about two months after my win, I know it’s going to be a tough race here at Portimão - comments #7 - but the gains we made at Laguna Seca and the work we did in the test have really put a bit of a spring in my step. I feel like the bike is now a lot different to the one I’ve been racing this season and I’m looking forward to the race because I feel our pace is quite decent."
Davies remains realistic though, and admits that the Portuguese track is not one of his favourites, while it seems to suit the bike well. “Going on past results, for me this track is not the easiest one to get a win at, but I’m feeling optimistic because the Panigale V4 R is going better around here than the twin ever did. I’m feeling confident, even though Portimão is not an easy track and the bumps and undulations throw up a lot of different challenges.”