Chaz Davies was looking to build on the strong results from the last part of WorldSBK 2019 on the factory Ducati to make life easier at the start of this year.
But so far he is still having to work hard in the pits, and finished the official two-day test at Phillip Island in only 11th place.
“A bit of work to do, for sure, for the race weekend,” Davies told bikesportnews.com. “I feel OK, consistently OK - not fantastic - but just OK. Not able to put in a really quick lap and also when I do a lot of laps I am also not going that much slower either. Kind of a bit the way it is at the minute. We will probably change the set-up a decent step.”
Working between two bikes at the test Davies has been able to see a difference in the machines, even if the settings were theoretically the same. “The bikes started off yesterday supposedly the same but they were totally different. Supposedly the same in terms of chassis, but one is a ’19 and one is a ’20 engine.
“So yesterday we spent the time to try and at least pick the good parts from one and replicate the good areas into the other. So whatever the strong points were to try and move one to the other make a good package. Today was better and not so dramatic a difference. It was more consistent. It at least allowed us to work somewhat properly today.”
After Alvaro Bautista managed the seemingly impossible last year, and ran away out front at a pace that most thought would wreck his tyres, maybe this year there will be a more normal PI weekend, with all the top riders together and nobody getting away. Davies is not completely sure.
“Probably, but you never know until you get to Saturday,” said Davies. “We probably said that last year and everybody was waiting on Alvaro blistering his tyre but it never happened. So he has proved that it is do-able to run a race around here with good lap times from the word go and not really think about too much management.
“With his weight, which is not a lot, I think that maybe gave him that card to play a little bit, where he could not abuse the tyre very much. He is very light and that is the best explanation I have got.”
Davies forcefully rejected the idea that that a tall rider like him would not be able to get the best out of the Ducati, given how well Bautista did in 2019 for a long time as Chaz toiled, but Davies pointed to his eventual prowess in winning at Laguna and scoring ten podiums. He qualified that by adding, “In certain circuits I do have to work really hard to improve the bike - for me. This is one of them and I hoped it would be different. But it I definitely making us change our set-up a little bit because it is just not coming particularly easily at the minute.
“Look at Alvaro’s situation now. This is probably his best racetrack and it just shows the difference that riders can have with a different motorcycle and different feeling. I was in a bad position last year and he was exceptional, and it looks like Leon is getting on a lot better at the moment on the Honda and Alvaro is really struggling.
“Motorcycle racing is not a given. This further proves that. We know our general base, if maybe not for everywhere, but of you look at the back end of last season, from Laguna Seca on; we were in the fight for the podium everywhere. The general performance of the bike was not too bad but I hoped it would be a bit easier here and not have to change as much.”