Chaz Davies etched his name into Ducati lore by once again dominating the Italian manufacturer’s home round at Imola.
With hundreds of guests on site to see it, Davies picked his way through the pack in Race 2 from ninth on the grid, to take the lead at half-distance from Tom Sykes, and ease his way to what would become a comfortable victory.
The Welshman was in relaxed form all weekend, and afterwards said that “this was a weekend that our bike was the best bike out there, and it was up to us to use that to its full potential.”
Davies certainly did that as he wrapped up his third win of the 2017 campaign and moved back to second in the standings.
Chaz Davies continued to dominate the Imola WorldSBK meeting by claiming victory in the opening race of the weekend.
The Welsh rider had earlier taken the fifth Superpole of his career, but the rate at which he was able to ease away from the field certainly laid a marker to his rivals for what to expect in tomorrow’s race.
The Ducati star has won the last three races at the Italian venue from pole position, but with the Race 2 grid reshuffle he’ll have to battle through the pack from ninth position on Sunday.
Race 2 at Assen didn’t have the fireworks of Saturday, but rather than the pressure-cooker environment of a championship battle flaring up, it was a slowly boiled intra-team scrap that was settled on Sunday.
In three years at Kawasaki Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes have had their differences and tension, but overall their relationship has been mostly positive. There was the potential for fall-out in The Netherlands however, when Sykes closed dramatically on Rea in the second-half of the race.
The 2013 world champion has battled illness in recent weeks, a bacterial infection had forced him to into hospital and laid him up since Thailand, but in the thick of battle he sensed a weakened rival.
The tension that has been building between Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies finally spilled over at Assen. Three years of competing with one another for race wins and championships has strained their relationship, and on Saturday at Assen it reached its breaking point.
On the final laps of Superpole, Davies was on a flying lap and came across Rea through Turn 7. Being forced to sit up and avoid the touring Kawasaki, emotions got the better of Davies, and at the end of the session he hit out at Rea in parc ferme.
“You stayed on three quarters of the track,” stated Davies after qualifying third. “I don’t know how tight a line you can pull out of that left, but I’m three-quarters of the track out there.”
“You were in the way mid-way through the corner, and then on the exit I had to pick it up because you were three-quarters across the track, if I didn’t I’d have cleaned you out! Next time I’ll smash you from the inside and we’ll see what happens.”
Sometimes you can’t see the forest from the trees, and Aragon’s Race 2 was a good example of that in World Superbike. The championship standings have been dominated by Jonathan Rea all season, but this was the fourth time that the reigning world champion was pushed to the limit on race day this season.
With Rea having started the day with a 100% winning record in 2017, the pressure was on the rest of the field to break his stranglehold on the series. Ultimately, it came down to Jonathan Rea versus Chaz Davies, as had been expected, with the duo renewing their intense rivalry from 24-hours earlier.