Behind the all-conquering Jonathan Rea in WorldSBK race one at Losail, Chaz Davies took his works Ducati to the runner-up spot, which he almost had no right to do starting from the back of the fourth row, in 12th place after Superpole.
With a work-in-progress bike set-up in free practice and Superpole, a set-up that got better for the race itself, Davies found Superpole even harder work than the free periods.
“On a Q rear tyre every problem that I have just gets exaggerated,” he explained, “especially in this circuit. I think the track conditions got a little better today and maybe we did not change the set-up enough to react to the improvements in track conditions?”
His start was a blitz of several of his rivals at once, and he was up to fourth after just one long 5.380km lap under the floodlights.
“I think it was about as good a start as I could make. We have been playing with the clutch quite a lot to try and improve our starts and in certain areas we are better, and in other areas it is a bit less predictable.
I made a good start but it was very close to being a bad start because I was trying to keep the engine up in the rev-range. I got off the line well good track position in the first corner and then I lost a little bit of time in an early fight - but otherwise our pace was solid. It was a long race so I tried to look after the tyre from the beginning.”
Tyres and Losail are still a factor despite the races and most sessions taking place in the darkness, when it is moderately cooler. In reality, less stamina-sappingly hot.
“You have to be really careful here to save the tyre because in the last four or five laps of the race the hot conditions really take it out of the tyre and it starts to move quite a lot.
“Unfortunately, I did not have anything extra and I saw Johnny make a couple of mistakes. I was hoping for another drop from him but he was playing the long game and he was conservative with his rhythm. That gave him a little bit, and I think managing the race from the front he was able to save the tyre a little bit better than I did.
Overall, can’t complain. I need to put ten good laps together in the Superpole race to make sure we give ourselves the best chance possible to finish the season well.”
The result of the short Superpole Race, as in every round, determines the final Race Two grid for the top riders, not just of the points scored in the short race itself.
Although Chaz had a bike under him that took him to second, Rea was just too far ahead, and had too much tyre left, compared to Davies after his run through the field.
“Obviously it is not too bad because we finished second, and that in itself is a good result, but at the same time I feel that we have steps to take with the chassis balance. We made a change for that race then and it was very good, it worked very well. In some areas we were struggling in some we were really good. That was interesting data and I think that will be the key this winter, to work on the bike as a package in the middle of the corners for the turning and everything like that.”
With a bike that seemed faster than anything else out there, even with the lanky Davies on it, he was not content to pass only down the straight.
“I pass wherever I can, wherever there is a hole I will fit,” he said. “Given my position at the time I think I passed Tom and Haslam in the straight, but for the rest I think I did the passes around the rest of the track. You hope whatever way the pass opportunity creates itself you just got for it. Why wait to do it over here when you can do it over there?”
Davies didn’t wait for the end of the first lap to put in most of his passes in Race One, and needs another top starting technique to get him up front early in the short ten-lap Superpole race.