Chaz Davies’ number seven has hardly been a fixture on top of the WorldSBK timesheets or race results in 2019, not since the very powerful but seemingly tricksy Ducati Panigale V4R came into his orbit.
After a few races in the shadows, Davies yesterday burst out into the California weekend in glorious Technicolor, with the fastest lap of the day, deposing Jonathan Rea from top spot.
It was all achieved in the afternoon, it seems, “This morning was awful,” Davies told bikesportnews.com, as candidly as ever. “This afternoon was better.”
The reason for the bad start then strong finish was a big change of set-up window from am to pm. “Just because we came with a similar set-up to what we have been using generally and saying in that window which is not really working and then this afternoon – I am tired of this window, find a new window.
It is just not good enough. We have opened up another window and it improved. It is just Friday, but at least lap times do not lie and for me it was quite easy to be fast and consistent at the end of the FP2 session.”
Davies would not divulge specifics, but said of how this improvement had been won, “The bike was just generally working better. I was looking for a certain improvement in one area and we got that, but it introduced another problem in the afternoon session. As soon as I did the next run we made some changes and it kind of came to me a bit.”
The changes mainly helped leaving corners quickly, but also on corner entry. “Entry and exit, particularly exit, actually,” said Chaz.
Davies has had at least one false set-up dawn in 2019, at Imola, another circuit he loves dearly.
“There were two corners at Imola where I was still struggling with same comments as January, February, even though I was still fast at Imola,” explained Davies. “I was particularly fast in the other corners but not 100% in the two corners I am talking about.
The races since Imola have been full of that type of corner. The bike just wasn’t working for me. I thought that we made improvements in some areas after Imola that was going to serve is well for the rest of the season, but in the end I have had too many different problems overall. It is not just one thing.”
A great fan of Laguna, where he has won three races in all, the most recent in 2017, Davies said it certainly did not hurt to have so much track knowledge and feel “It helps to be at a circuit that I am generally quite fast at but you can’t go fast if the bike is not right,” said Davies.
““This morning in my first run I was so pissed off. I had been struggling in some areas where I had been struggling since I generally when I started riding the bike. That was the first difference that I felt for a long time. I do not want to get ahead of myself because at different circuits you have different grip levels.
“Today was definitely a good start but this morning I was not happy at all. I finished FP1 not so optimistic. I finished FP2 nearly smiling.”
Davies has also faced a new kind of problem in 2019, not just a new bike. The V4R has a lot more power then the previous engine. That brings more chassis issues, as there are greater forces going through the bike, more forces to try to make behave nicely.
“That is true,” said Davies when asked about this potential factor. “It is not easy to tame it and that has probably not helped us as well. Definitely more difficult.”