Nobody’s surprised to see Chaz Davies at the head of the field aboard his Ducati Panigale R, but Marco Melandri looked like he never took a hiatus as he, too, was fighting for the win at Phillip Island.
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Double podium in Race 2 at Phillip Island for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team: Chaz Davies is 2nd, Marco Melandri 3rd
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team stepped on the podium with both its riders in Race 2 of the WorldSBK championship at Phillip Island. In a thrilling race that went down to the wire, Chaz Davies missed the win by only 25 thousandths of a second. Marco Melandri, who was forced to retire yesterday after running off track while battling against an opponent, bounced back by taking third place.
Starting in 8th and 10th position respectively due to the new grid regulations for Race 2, Davies and Melandri rode a tactical race and climbed back progressively. While Davies managed to constantly pressure the winner Rea, Melandri momentarily found himself outside the top ten due to the clash in the pack early on, but was able to cut the gap one fast lap after another (setting, with a 1:31.178, the race’s best lap). Towards the end, both Davies and Melandri provisionally took the lead in a top group made of five riders, then secured the podium.
After the first round, Davies is second in the championship (40 points), Melandri seventh (16 points). The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will resume action in Buriram (Thailand) for the second round, scheduled for March 10-12.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 2nd
“Today’s race was a bit more difficult to manage, given the hotter conditions. The glass is half full though, without a doubt. We tried something different but we lost a a couple of bike lengths here and there and we just couldn’t pass Rea before the finish line. When you look at the full picture, this is a really positive result. It would be easy to be disappointed because we barely missed two wins, but historically this has never been a favorite circuit for me and sometimes I lost precious points here, so two second places are a good building block for the rest of the season.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) – 3rd
“It was a really touch race today. I got a good start but lost positions in the traffic early on, so I had to push hard to climb back, asking a lot to both myself and the tyres. When I took the lead, I tried to impose my own rhythm but it turned out not to be the right move. With three laps to go, when Rea and Davies gave the final push, I was struggling with grip and couldn’t attack them. Still, we needed a full race to understand where to improve, and a podium shows that we’re working in the right direction with the whole team.”
Stefano Cecconi, CEO of Aruba S.p.A and Team Principal
“These two races were quite peculiar, and both very tactical. Twice, the victory was a matter of thousandths of a second. Both Chaz and Marco rode extremely well, confirming that the whole team is at a high level. The potential we have shown leaves us happy but also hungry for more. The Buriram track has never been favorable to us in the past, so we’re confident it will represent a good test to verify the steps forward made thus far.”