Aruba Ducati’s Chaz Davies finished fourth in the opening WorldSBK race at Imola, but his pace, especially at the end of the 19-lap clash, could have taken him to much greater things from his front row start.
Not making a clean getaway and then running on into the Variante Bassa, spoiled his podium chances.
But the start was the main problem, said Davies, who thought that he suffered a self-induced double whammy instated of winning.
“It was a consequence of two things, really,” Davies told bikesportnews.com. “One was the start and the mistake in the chicane. The mistake in the chicane probably cost me the podium but the start would have definitely cost me the chance for a win. Just two big mistakes, which was two too many.”
His late race pace was unmissable as he closed in on Melandri, but the early laps were not straightforward for him, and his team-mate Melandri.
“I struggled around the other guys in the early laps but then the bike came to me a little bit and started feeling better and better. I was happy with the bike towards the end but I feel like we need to improve in the early part.”
Melandri complained about the handling of his bike with a full fuel tank, and Davies was affected to some degree with the same problem.
“Normally I am not that sensitive to that but I did have a little bit of it today. Riding with other I do feel I suffered with that in a few braking areas. If you are alone you can predict what it is going to do, but with other guys and different styles, you have to adapt to that.
“That is what happened to me in the last chicane. I was struggling to stop the bike anyway. It is less of a problem when we are alone. Kawasaki really stepped up and brought a good pace today.”
Now Davies seems almost the favourite for race two, as even Rea said he was in a battle for second. Davies laughed at the prospect of that, but his one consolation is starting off of pole position for race two, under the 2018 reverse grid rules. “It will be the first time I have taken advantage of this reverse grid and the first time to start on pole.”
Davies needs something special from race two to cut into Rea’s overnight championship lead of 42 points.