Jerez WorldSBK test: Davies wrestles with re-designed chassis

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Chaz Davies’ return to action, and what is a partially redesigned Panigale V4R, was not an easy one, as he suffered a fast crash that wrecked his bike on day one.

Then, on day two, the Welshman struggled to find enough dry track time to make real evaluations of his package. On balance, he seems fortunate after his fall at turn one on the opening day.

“I just tucked the front,” Davies told “I think I got caught out on a slippery patch going into turn one. It caught a few of us out but luckily I went to the right and my bike went to the left and I think the air fence was already punctured from either Toprak or VDM, so my bike hit the wall and was destroyed. Luckily I hit the air fence because I was travelling pretty quick. So, just one of those things.”

Davies really needed the dry track time with a fair few changes on his 2020 machine, particularly with the chassis.

“It is a good thing that we got some dry laps, because we have got a few new bits on the bike and I feel like I am shaking down a lot of stuff,” he confirmed. “They have redesigned the rear part of the bike quite a lot and we have ran into a few issues. Not only that but also with a different engine spec, and stuff, we have run into a few problems, which hopefully if we get some good weather in Portimao, has shortcut the work that we need to do there. Just a lot of teething problems today.”

Davies, who finished 15th fastest and well over three seconds down on the best single lap time riding on what was never a completely dry circuit, was asked if he was confident approaching round one a month from now in having the bike perform in the same positive way as he had in the second part of the last season.

“Yeah, because we have always got that base,” said Davies. “We know we have got the base so there is always that to go back to, but the idea is to try and improve. So we need to stick with the new parts for now and get some dry tack time. Everything is so new. The problem is we do not have a lot of time in between now and Australia. But still, if we get four dry days it is good enough. We should be able to find our way a little bit.

Davies elaborated on the changes to the machine.

They just redesigned all the rear package, to do with the swingarm, link the attachment points, everything like that. Quite a big redesign and just with just a few slow laps that I did today the bike is working quite differently at the rear, so we need to really get our heads around what we need to do just to recover the balance of the bike - because the balance of the bike today was completely far away from what I know.”

The question is now will it be possible to emulate the 16 race wins that Alvaro Bautista scored in 2019. Is it possible for Davies to think about a similar situation this year?

“That was, I think, a golden moment for Alvaro and for the bike and everything like that,” said Davies. “It is not something I thought about then and it is certainly not something I am thinking about now.”

With a new team-mate in Scott Redding for 2020, who is a similar size to Davies, surely there is more data sharing, and relevance? In one way no. “To be honest we have not really done too much together yet,” stated Chaz. “He is working on his stuff and I am working on mine.

We have got the same material, obviously, and we need to develop the same stuff. Tonight should be interesting to see if they have found a direction with the re-designed part of the bike. But yeah, generally I always concentrate on myself. I am not really asking too many question over the other side of the garage.”

But the size of each rider being so similar should help, but at present not so much.

“I do not know. I am not sure at the moment. I think it is helpful (our sizes) but on terms of where he is on the bike and what his current set-up is, I couldn’t tell you.”

As well as the usual and new riding competitors, the all-new Honda put in some strong showings at Jerez. Davies is pleased to see it, in some way at least.

“It is good for the championship to have Honda here in a serious way,” he said. “It is another competitor. I think of course the less competitive riders and teams there are it is better for me but this is racing, so it is good for the championship. It is nice to have them here because it gives a lot of credibility to the Superbike championship and there are a lot of manufacturers taking this championship very seriously. 90% of the top manufacturers are here in a factory capacity with engineers from the factory taking it really seriously. It is important.”