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Ducati’s sporting director rates WSBK riders | Sport | WSBK

Paulo Ciabatti hands out Ducati rider report card on Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri

On Davies and if he’s trying too hard

“In Assen he was not trying too hard, he was trying very hard, and it was not his fault. Full stop. A mechanical failure is a mechanical failure, so it is nothing to do with the rider. Obviously you might argue that Aragon, yes, but obviously as you know there is a strong rivalry between Jonathan and Chaz. Obviously as you could see after qualifying in Assen. In the end, when a rider feels he has a chance to win he should try, at least at the beginning of the season. Then, obviously, you might regret because by being second many times… In the 2002 season, by being second I think 14 times in a row, our friend from Texas won the championship ahead of our Troy [Bayliss]. So Colin [Edwards] could not probably win and he was second, but then Honda brought some improvements then he started to win. Troy had been winning something like 14 races but then started to crash a few times and then here in Imola we remember the story of the championship finish. If you cannot win and you are second you should be able to, probably, take the points – but on the other sides if a rider feels he has a chance to win and he does not feel he is riding over the limit – it is difficult to blame a rider for deciding he has a chance to win, and wants to try. Plus our fans consider him a hero for what he is trying to do so in the end, obviously, for the image of Ducati – the rider trying hard, trying to win, is always positive. It is not good if you want to see it as a progression for the championship, because you risk and you crash and get zero points, but I think it is acceptable, at least in the eyes of our supporters and fans and customers. They see a rider who is giving 110%. This is highly appreciated by them.” 

On Melandri and if he’s living up to expectations 

“For Marco there are some tracks where he is struggling. Assen where he was struggling, but if you speak to him, he said for whatever reason Assen has never been friendly to him in Superbike. So I think he is still missing a little bit, and he knows, but considering he has been always on the podium or close to the podium… And let us not forget that he was away from active racing for 1.5 years, so I think in terms of top speed he is there or is very close but as he says he is still missing the contact, the race craft. In that situation he says he is not as effective as he wants to because this is something that he takes more time to get the feeling to being able to fight fairing against fairing with other people. We could see some situation also from the first race in Australia where in that situation he lost. In Thailand if guy passes you there in the last corner and the same guy passes you there in the same corner you should be able to maybe to close the door, change the line, whatever. But I think we can be very satisfied because Marco is fast, consistent, still a popular rider, which helps, and he has been on the podium regularly. This was not to be taken for granted for a rider who has been away from racing for such a long time.”

By Gordon Ritchie

Photography Gold n Goose

Melandri, Race1, Imola WSBK 2017