Chaz Davies’ performance underwent a transformation at the Imola WorldSBK round. After a year of struggling with the Panigale V4R, the Welshman came out of the blocks fighting from first practice and it looks likely a change of fork specification is at the heart of the resurgence.
Davies has always been the last of the late brakers - even Casey Stoner says it’s hard to pass him into a corner - and he has been able to carry that additional speed through the turn and out the other side. But on the V4R, it looks like Davies had been having problems with front-end push or understeer.
Without the aid of very very slowed down footage, it’s hard to see but in previous years, Davies was able to make the front grip and go, where until Imola, it looked like the front of the V4R was not biting as well as he would like.
When asked whether it was a change of fork spec that had made the difference, Davies said to bikesportnews.com: “I can’t say. Why? Have you been looking?”
So is it push and has it been sorted out? “That’s a good assessment. In a roundabout way, yeah. Even if it’s not pushing on, my riding style is a little bit different I think to most.
“Everybody’s got their little style. It’s just for me with this bike it’s finding what I need to ride it in the way that I can get the best out of myself.”
And Davies believes the change is going to work for the rest of the season: “Everywhere, for sure.
I think there’s still a lot that we have to improve, but this is a starting point to move in our window, because it was getting a bit like, ‘We’ve improved, but I’m still struggling’ and I can’t quite put my finger on what to change next.
“Our window was we were fine with not able to move onto the next one. Then at the test here, I didn’t really try this and this morning I did and we’d moved our pace on a good few tenths.”
Davies missed quite a lot of track time in winter testing through injury but isn’t using it as an excuse. It has been a steep development curve alongside a team-mate who is much shorter and lighter.
“It’s been OK because the beauty of being a factory rider is if you want something a bit custom, then you can ask for it. It might not turn up straightaway, and especially when my team-mate is leading the championship, there’s a priority on the other side of the garage.
But at the same time there’s never a ‘no’ answer. They’re always super fair. Just because I missed the time testing in the winter and I missed loads of track time, it’s definitely not fair to say that the bike’s been changed to suit Alvaro or anything like that. We’ve both had the same opportunity to develop the bikes around us.
“It’s just that my good feedback was a little bit too late for me. When I started riding the bike and getting the first signs of feeling out of it that I want, then the feedback was coming to me and it wasn’t really until Phillip Island race two. Then we learned a little bit there.
“Then we went to Thailand a couple weeks later and we learned a bit there as well. It was all things that really should have been uncovered in testing, but when you’re not a 100 per cent fit and you’re just on that back foot.
“If I’d had the right opportunity I’d get basically what I asked for within fitting myself on the bike. If I ask for something, it will come. Ducati are really good. It’s a factory team at the end of the day. It’s pretty awesome.”