Chaz Davies

Fast Bikes - - COLUMNIST -

Hi guys, how are we all? Me, I’m just about to head off to Magny Cours so it would seem the per­fect time to check in with Team FB. Now, ob­vi­ously last time out on track things were pretty sweet as we nailed the dou­ble vic­tory at Lausitzring in Ger­many. It was even sweeter as the pace was much faster than last sea­son, and Jonny Rea pushed me pretty hard to keep up the quick con­sis­tent laps. Ev­ery­thing felt good, and while the ti­tle may now be out of reach, there’s noth­ing quite like do­ing the dou­ble.

I may have men­tioned this be­fore, and it’s been pointed out to me on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, but the Pani­gale is the only Du­cati it­er­a­tion to not have won at least one WSB ti­tle – no pres­sure! At least, not yet, as we’ll have an­other sea­son on the L-twin again in 2018 be­fore the new bike comes along. That be­ing said, if the new V4 ends up also be­ing called a Pani­gale, will that still count?! Af­ter rid­ing all the spe­cial ver­sion Pani­gales and the GP17 this year, I re­ally can’t wait to get my hands on the new bike. That be­ing said, our work must con­tinue on the twin and Du­cati won’t be rest­ing on their lau­rels just be­cause there’s a new squeeze in the pipeline.

My cur­rent bike will keep get­ting all the Latin love they’re able to throw at it for 2018, and we have an amaz­ing test squad who I know can get the V4 there or there­abouts be­fore we have to switch our con­cen­tra­tion to that. Any­ways, not sup­posed to talk too much about it, though it was in­ter­est­ing to see the Stradale V4 engine launched at Misano and the re­sponse to it. Ob­vi­ously it’s a lit­tle too large ca­pac­ity-wise to go rac­ing with, and we’ve yet to see the it­er­a­tion we’ll even­tu­ally be rid­ing, but given it’s also based on the GP15 engine and how in­cred­i­ble Du­cati’s ‘R’ mod­els tend to be, it’s go­ing to some­thing pretty spe­cial, right?

Not that I was think­ing too much about in be­tween Ger­many and Por­tu­gal, in­stead there was some camp­ing and train­ing go­ing on with some en­duro and MX’ing on the cards. I’ve spo­ken about this of­ten in FB over the years, but in light of Valentino Rossi’s re­cent en­duro ac­ci­dent, I’ll say it again! Rid­ing these bikes is cru­cial to many riders to stay sharp, and I’ll count my­self in that bunch too.

How­ever you’ve got to be sen­si­ble about it, and as we saw with Rossi he had an in­nocu­ous, re­ally slow off (were we told...) and sim­ply got un­lucky. Ac­tu­ally I’ve no rea­son to doubt what hap­pened there, but then I have seen some crazy stuff my­self, pre and mid-sea­son, be­ing on the same MX track as other GP and WSB rac­ers. I’ve watched some do­ing huge jumps, cock it up and pay the price, in­jur­ing them­selves. It’s a real head-slap mo­ment, and then I have a chuckle to my­self when I read the press re­lease with a far, far blander de­scrip­tion of why they’re bust up! Look, any­thing can hap­pen, take Crutchlow slic­ing his hand up when tack­ling some cheese with a sharp knife. Hell, our wee dog Tor al­most had me tum­bling down the stairs the other day – you can re­duce the risks, but can’t ac­count for ev­ery­thing and none of us want to live in a bub­ble be­tween race rounds.

One great thing about liv­ing in An­dorra, and hav­ing rounds not a zil­lion miles away, is the abil­ity to jump in the van and drive to some, like Por­ti­mao and Magny Cours. We didn’t race at the Cir­cuit Al­garve last year, though had pos­i­tive tests. It’s still way too bumpy in places, but I was feel­ing good none­the­less.

And things were go­ing pretty well from the off, we were in the hunt, enough that me and my side of the garage started hatch­ing plans for Su­per­pole and race one. But that all went out of the win­dow when I had a lit­tle tip­ple over one of the bumps, caus­ing me and the Pani­gale to ini­ti­ate an im­promptu yet short break from one an­other! This meant start­ing the first out­ing from ninth place, with Jonny on Pole, balls... Could have been worse mind you, Tom Sykes had a hor­ren­dous crash in prac­tice see­ing him out for the week­end!

I man­aged to barge my way through fairly well, but by the time I got past folk like Eu­gene Laverty (who was go­ing re­ally well), Jonny had pulled a de­cent gap. I could match his times, pull some time back here and there but he was just too far. Had I got away with him it could have been a dif­fer­ent story, but a sec­ond place isn’t too shabby.

In the sec­ond race both me and Jonny made good ini­tial progress, but then I came a lit­tle un­stuck try­ing to get past a cou­ple of guys. But the time I did, that gap was there again – Ground­hog Day! Later on I ac­tu­ally crashed, it was my fault, I essen­tially eased off a bit and shut­ting the throt­tle ear­lier than nor­mal the front over­loaded, mean­ing me and the Por­tuguese tar­mac got an un­planned sec­ond date of the week­end to­gether.

The one bonus was that we did make some progress on the bike and the sub­se­quent test the fol­low­ing day went re­ally well, too. Guess I’ll just have to make up for it in France, but you’ll al­ready know if I did or not by now!

The L-twin might be on the way out, but Chaz has got an­other year on it be­fore switch­ing to the V4. An­other day, an­other podium.

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