Who knows what Chaz Davies’ eventual 2019 season would have looked like had he not had the great misfortune to suffer from injury and a relative lack of track time last winter with an all-new Ducati Panigale V4R to try and develop into a winning package?
It all took too long once the season started, simply because testing opportunities are limited in the current era, and there is only so much you can change in terms of the big stuff because of the ever-more stock engine and cost-capped components rules.
But Davies plugged away in his well-known analytical manner and his season ended up with him visiting the podium with some regularity, and winning a famous Race Two at Laguna Seca.
A trio of ‘long-race’ podiums in the last three of 2019 are a positive sign for next year. Beating his now-ex-team-mate in those final long races was another boost for Davies.
Still work to do for Chaz in his tech side, however, as he had to use up too much of his soft front tyre option when it looked like he may have had the pace of Rea, after passing Bautista, in that final race of the season.
“I used the soft front and I started to struggle with that a little bit in the end,” Davies told bikesportnes.com. “I find that I am having to use too much effort to turn the bike, and that is one big area we need to work in. For that reason we spent a lot of time on the angle and a lot of time using the front tyre to do this. So we need to work a lot in that area.”
Despite the track time limitations and seeing his team-mate run away at times, Davies acknowledges the progress his side of the garage has made since round one. “I think we have made massive steps forward and I think it has been clear for the last five or six races, since Laguna, that Alvaro was faster than me in the second race in Portimao, and obviously won the first race in San Juan, when I did not race - but apart from that, I feel that I have generally been a little bit faster than him, for five races consistently.
This is positive because I was so far behind him in the beginning of the year, and struggling so much. So now to finish on that not is really good and really important. Also for everybody, when they see results it is easy to believe. But finishing P8, P10 or P7, whatever, it is more difficult.
“There are a few people that always believed but it is just important to finish like this to really go into the winter with a clear of idea of where we need to be improve, and I have proved now today, and in the last races, that I can be fast with this bike - even if it didn’t look like it for many races. But I can be fast with this bike now. At least we have a big target for next year to work towards. It won’t be easy but we will just keep working.”
Davies will also lose the highly talented but tiny in stature Alvaro Bautista for 2020 (finding him again in 2020 as a rival on a Honda) but now Davies will have fellow tall-boy Scott Redding alongside, and his old mate Leon Camier on a Ducati in the Barni Racing Ducati team.
Speaking of Camier he hopes that his experience in general will let him help in machine development, even if some things are different in the Barni Team’s technical suite.
I hope so because I really pushed quite hard for Leon to be on the bike as well, he deserves the opportunity, and I really want to see him on a good bike. Being, basically, next door neighbours (in Andorra) it is always good to have that friendly rivalry so I am really happy first to see him on the bike.
“On the development side of things, the main point of difference would be the Showa suspension, in comparison to our Öhlins, but I think that for 90%, the comments will cross over between us and the Barni team, so yes; it is a really good thing. Another good thing is – like Scott – the weight of Leon. He is a little bit more than me and Scott is about the same as Leon, so three big British guys riding Ducatis is no bad thing.”
Davies continued, “For sure in recent years I believe this is a much better starting point for Leon than he has had in recent years. But Leon started the championship with Aprilia many years ago, but when you are 21 or 20 years old you are different to what you are when you are 30.
“Maybe the opportunity was good but maybe the timing was not quite correct for him, and other things at the same time that did not work out for him. But from the beginning to now, hopefully this is his best opportunity.”