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Chaz Davies is second in the 2017 WorldSBK season opener at Phillip Island, Marco Melandri forced to retire

The 2017 WorldSBK season opener at Phillip Island (Australia) yielded bittersweet results for the Racing – Ducati team. Chaz Davies rode a tactical race and finished in second position, only 0.042 seconds behind Jonathan Rea. Marco Melandri, on the other hand, was forced to retire with seven laps to go after going off the track while battling against an opponent.

In fourth and third position on the grid respectively after Superpole, Davies and Melandri took the lead thanks to a blistering start and then constantly fought in the leading group. As it often happened in the past, the Australian track led to a hard-fought, exciting race, with seven riders at the top and narrow gaps. The battle, however, penalized Melandri, who was forced off track at turn 2 after disputing the same line with another rider. Conversely, Davies was able to play defense and wait until the final laps to attack, missing the victory by only 0.042 seconds.

The Racing – Ducati team will resume action tomorrow at 11:25 local time (01:25 CET) for WUP. Race 2 is scheduled to start at 15:00 (05:00 CET). Due to the new grid regulations for Race Two, Davies and Melandri will start in 8th and 10th position respectively.

Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati #7) – 2nd
“We’ve made a good step forward for the long distance today, but the race itself was a bit of waiting game, as always here in Phillip Island. We had to look after the tyres, playing cat and mouse, and it was a good show. I tried not to get caught too much in the battle and basically reacted to what was going on around me. We almost won, but we still lacked something on the straight. I could pass, but only after the finish line, so we’ll have to try something else. Anyway, we adopted a different strategy compared with the past, a bit safer, to not give away points. That’s the key at this point of the season, because more favorable tracks for us will come soon enough. But, I can’t wait to have another go at it tomorrow.”

Marco Melandri ( Racing – Ducati #33) – DNF
“Since the race was pretty slow-paced and crowded at the top, I wanted to take my time and save the tyres to try and pull away with Rea and Davies towards the end. I passed Lowes at turn 1 and went a bit wide, but he changed direction earlier than usual at turn 2, cutting in front of me. I lost the front for a moment and had to pick the bike up, going off the track. I knew a group battle would be a weak spot for us, given my long absence from the races. Today, however, it was really busy out there, and sometimes the races end like this. I’m disappointed, but also confident and eager to bounce back, given our potential. I learned many things today, and tomorrow it’ll be a different game, even though I’ll start from fourth row.”

Ernesto Marinelli, Superbike Project Director
“For sure it was a strange race, because all the top riders were worried about tyre wear and played defense, keeping the gaps really narrow. In these conditions, the final results are always unpredictable. On the one hand, we’re happy because Chaz fought for the win until the very last meter, but we’re also a bit displeased because Marco could have done the same but a contact took him out before the last laps. Both have shown to have the potential to win, but we want to keep working and give them something extra ahead of Race 2.”

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