Chaz Davies has struggled with too many aspect of his official Ducati’s relative performance of late, so when Sunday’s weird race at Brno delivered him a podium, he took with open arms.
“It was a strange race on Sunday,” said Davies in his usual understated fashion. “Things were better for me but I was expecting to get hunted down by firstly Eugene, as I could see him on my pitboard. But my pace was better so I was happy to be going away from him and I was kind of staying even with the Yamahas until I started to struggle with the front.
I tried to take a tenth here and a tenth there so that if they dropped at the end I could be in with a shout. But in the end I started losing the front, and pace, at that point. They had a bit more than me at the end. Overall it was a good improvement on yesterday and I felt I understood the bike a little bit better today. But it is certainly not particularly easy at the minute.”
Race one, putting him over a second a lap every lap back from the leaders, and in a lowly eighth place, was utterly unexpected but Davies could not say if it was a tyre problem or a set-up issue. “It is easy to point fingers but it is not really not that helpful,” he stated.
“I can’t say if it was one or the other but it was extreme spin in a few laps and that kind of decided my race. We changed a lot with the set-up today so there is every chance it was a set-up related problem. But I have never rode this bike with so little grip as I did yesterday.”
Grip is his main issue now, or lack of it, and it has been a factor in recent races that has lost Davies and all the Ducati riders big points. What has been going wrong? “This weekend, it has been grip, and it has been something I have been complaining about for all the season really. And we do not have any answers for it.
“Not only that, we do not have anything that is going to really make a difference. We can play with suspension and do this and that but I am not feeling a difference; not making steps forward. That is the most difficult thing about it. It is not through lack of trying because everybody is throwing the book at it. I am not able to feel the bike the way I know it can perform.”
With a new V4 coming to be developed in 2019, Davies was asked if he was happy to stay in Ducati with this unknown on the horizon. “As a brand and as a history, then of course,” he said. “To be a Ducati rider, a successful Ducati rider, is something special. There is nothing to be unhappy about; not just with Ducati but the partnership with Aruba and from that point of view I am in a fantastic environment, with fantastic people.
“The question mark is that there is a new bike coming and these things usually take time to develop. So that is the question I need to decide. If I am willing to accept that risk that there could be a long development period with the bike. It could be two months, it could be six months, it could be one year. You just do not know.
“It took a long time to put the V-twin into a winning position. You have it assume that it could be the same with the V-four. Although I would like to think different, I have to think about that a lot. So obviously I am happy from the Ducati/Aruba side, everything like that is great.
But then for the opportunity to become world champion in 2019, it is something that has to be considered, to balance the risk factor, if there is a risk factor.”
Davies is still overall second to Rea, now by 65 points after Rea’s no score in race two.