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Melandri and Davies respectively in 2nd and 3rd position in Friday’s free-practice at Portimão, home of 10th round of the WorldSBK Championship

The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team took it back to the track today at Portimão (Portugal), home of the tenth round of the WorldSBK Championship, for the first two free-practice sessions. Both Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies enjoyed a positive first day on the Algarve track, closing respectively in second and third position on combined times.

The Italian, who could only ride a handful of laps in FP1 due to a technical problem, quickly recovered in the afternoon session to post a 1:43.207, +0.586 behind the provisional best time of 1:42.621. The Welshman, fourth in the morning, made steady progress to take four tenths of a second off his best time and finish +0.103 behind his teammate.

Both riders thus gained direct access to Superpole 2. The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will resume action tomorrow at 09:05 local time (CET -1) for FP3 in preparation of Superpole and Race 1, which is scheduled to start at 15:00 local time (16:00 CET).

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) – 1:43.207 (2nd)
“For sure it’s been a good day. It’s always special to ride at Portimão, it’s a wonderful place and the track itself is so much fun. We had to play catch-up after missing most of FP1 due to a technical problem, but my team has done a great job and we managed to start off on the right foot in FP2, making constant progress. We can still improve, especially in the last corner, and right now Rea has an edge on race pace, but we’re not far. The gusts have been an extra variable thus far, and the forecast says it’s going to be windy all weekend, so we’ll have to adapt as much as possible. I rode some strong races here in the past, and I want to take advantage of the experience gained with the Panigale R to do it again in the next couple of days.”

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 3rd
“It’s nice to be back on the track after our second summer break. Today was solid though not perfect. We tried what we needed to, going through the program, and tomorrow we’ll zero in on our race setup. I think we have a good handle of the direction in which we’re going, and we just need to put together all the pieces of the puzzle. In particular, we’ll focus on stopping the bike better under braking, using the rear more. Also, the track is bumpy, but today it was the wind creating a bit of a problem. It’s quite tough, you need to position yourself differently in some corners and always stay on guard because it can catch you with really strong gusts. We need a couple of small improvements to match the leading pace, but we’re not far and we just need to make a few minor adjustments so we’re confident.”