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Chaz Davies is continuing where he left off after the end of last season, setting the fastest time at the conclusion of Friday practice at Phillip Island World Superbike. The Ducati rider setting a time of 1:30.189 to lead the day. New teammate Marco Melandri was fifth fastest, with a 1:30.627.

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Chaz Davies sets the best time on Friday at Phillip Island, Marco Melandri is fifth

The 2017 WorldSBK championship officially kicked off in Phillip Island (Australia) with the first two free-practice sessions ahead of Saturday and Sunday’s races, and the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team placed both its riders in the top five in the opening day.

Chaz Davies posted the best provisional time with a blistering 1:30.189 (only a tenth of a second slower than the record on qualifying tyres) making the most of the track conditions in the morning, then successfully completed a race simulation during FP2. Marco Melandri was, on the other hand, the only rider within the top five capable to improve his lap times in the afternoon, closing with a personal best of 1:30.627 (+0.438 behind his teammate).

The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will resume action tomorrow at 10:20 local time (00:20 CET) for FP3 in anticipation of Superpole. Race 1 is scheduled to start at 15:00 (05:00 CET).

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 1:30.189 (1st)
“Day one was OK, and I’m happy about our performance. On my best lap I missed a couple of tenths through the last sector; potentially we could have lapped in 1’29, which would have been quite impressive, but we can still improve our race pace. Since the first test session and throughout the whole winter we’ve been methodical, chipping away and trying not to make radical changes to the package. This track is a bit more difficult for us, we had to make a few more adjustments to our base, but we found a better setup today and I hope to be able to further improve tomorrow. People keep mentioning our winning streak at the end of last year, but we’ll take the race as it comes. If there’s an opportunity to win, we’ll go for it. Otherwise, we’ll take as many points as possible. Consistency is the key.”

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) – 1:30.627 (5th) “This morning, the conditions were trickier than yesterday because it was very windy on track and we had to progressively get reacquainted with the bike. In the afternoon, however, we found the right feeling once again and the Panigale R felt really balanced overall. I did many laps on the same tyre, but not consecutively, so we still don’t know whether we can be as consistent as Davies and Rea over the race distance. Anyway, we tried different tyre options to figure out the best choice for the race, gathering some valuable data. Superpole will be extremely important, then we’ll see what strategy to adopt. I don’t have a specific goal in mind for the race, I just want to go out there and have fun, then we’ll see what comes our way.”