Chaz Davies has had some tough times in the past few months in WorldSBK but a lot of that pain went away after a strong Laguna Seca weekend on his thus-far tricky Panigale V4R.
A big change to the Aruba Ducati after free practice one saw him on the pace and he then proceeded to go second in Superpole, second in race one, second in the Superpole race and then first in race two.
The Welshman had not won for over a year, since Aragon in 2018, but it was springtime all over again in July for Davies as he managed to hold off this week’s top competitor Jonathan Rea in race two, by a numerically alliterative 3.333 seconds.
Davies knew he could fight a bit more on a harder tyre but a small change or two of his machine from the eight lap sprint race, and then going for the A rear tyre (not the less than perfect ten lap SCX he had used on Saturday) and he was in for his first V4R race win.
He was helped by Rea losing some front-end grip between short and long Sunday races, but it was pretty masterful from Davies all the same.
“I honestly wasn’t sure – I didn’t really expect that,” said Davies about his clear win over Rea. “Jonathan’s pace in the Superpole race, with a harder tyre was good, and obviously his race one pace was good.
“I knew my problems yesterday and I was not sure if just switching to that harder tyre would give me what I needed. I was not any slower with it but I did not find the bike as nice to ride in the first ten laps. I thought I could make the race with the soft tyre anyway. But it turns out I could not on Saturday.”
After some minor, minor changes, and then fitting the A rear, Davies was off and running away from Rea after a very determined inside pass on the pole man in race two.
It has been a long time since I was up here, a fucking long time! Sixteen months really, and it feels even longer than that. A lot of stuff happens in 16 months. You do not forget - but people do.”
Davies always had self-belief but he has covered some hard and anguishing yards while his new team-mate blasted out 14 race wins to Chaz’s zero - until now. He had to summon up the whole Davies dragon to get his new bike under control enough.
“I know how I feel on a bike when I can win races or, fight to win races, and I know that feeling. Pushing the bike so hard you are nearly crashing everywhere but you are not crashing everywhere. That is something I have missed with this bike.
“At times with the old bike you would be on the limit of losing the front, pick it up on the throttle, spin out and just teetering on the edge of grip the whole time, maximising your performance. But with this bike there have been so many other things going on that I have been fighting it a bit, the whole time.”
That big change on Friday afternoon began the process that led to win number one for Davies. “Since Friday afternoon it got a lot, lot better. My comments have not changed they have been pretty consistent since January and that is the frustrating thing for me, that we maybe did not get on top of it soon enough. But here we are…”