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Q&A - Chaz Davies

Crash.net catches up with Ducati WSBK rider Chaz Davies to discuss his season so far, the future and his opinions on the Circuit of Wales
Crash.net
This is your first season on the Ducati, how do you view it so far?

Chaz Davies
It's gone about as expected. It's been up and down with podiums here and there. The podium at Imola came a bit out of the blue, I didn't expect to be quite that competitive there, and then in six races I had three DNFs in Portugal, Misano and at Laguna Seca I barely started. We had some DNFs there but I felt that the pace was there with a front row at Portimao and Laguna and then getting on the podium last weekend at Jerez. It's been about what was expected and a little bit up and down but it's a development year and we've gone from strength to strength in a few areas of the bike but as we've improved in some areas we've had to change the way that the bike works in others. We've made it a lot lighter, its lost 5kg compared to last year, and the engine is a lot more powerful so we're playing around and getting closer to the limit of the bike.

Crash.net
How involved as Gigi Dall'Igna been with the Superbike project or does he tend to work only with the MotoGP team?

Chaz Davies:
He's involved with WSBK but it doesn't take up as much of his time as the GP project but he's involved in a lot of the technical meetings that go on in Bologna after a race weekend and he's been to two or three races this year so his input is there but it's just a little more in the background and happens a bit more at Bologna rather than at the circuits. It's good though to have him as a driving force and making sure that things are getting done and he brings a lot of knowledge to it.

Crash.net
Comparing Ducati to your time with BMW how does it feel at Ducati?

Chaz Davies:
It's basically the same people to be working with but most of the team is made up from the field racing structure used by Ducati to run the Superbike programme. The difference is that this is a factory team and all of the development work is done in Bologna. It's good and I'm really happy with it and the team. I'm really happy with the way that Ducati work because everything that they promised me in September last year, from our initial contact, has been delivered. They've improved in areas on the bike that needed it because obviously last year they had a really tough time and they explained to me that they didn't really get going on the development side of things until summer 2013 so there was a lot of delays but since then it's been a steady stream of development and everything that they said that they'd do they've done.

Crash.net
How will that development path continue for the next six months or the next year?

Chaz Davies:
It will be the same old really. There's no single area of the bike that we're focusing on now, it had been the engine earlier in the year but I feel that while the top end could be improved I think that we could benefit from looking at improving the rear end of the bike and trying to get more grip and stability. That's one thing but apart from that there's other updates that will be trickling through in the not too distant future. Between now and the end of the winter there'll be other things like the electronics but it's a constant stream of stuff and sometimes with the electronics it can be stuff that you can't even feel and then other times it can be stuff from MotoGP.

Crash.net
How do you feel that you've progressed over the course of your three years in WSBK?

Chaz Davies:
It's not ideal to change bikes every year because it definitely slows your progression. It's very difficult to start a season on a new bike and everything that you know about the previous bike kind of goes out the window and you have to get going again. You have to look at Eugene's second season at Aprilia compared to his first and he was eight wins better off in year two. It makes a difference and that continuity is something that I'm definitely looking forward to for next year.

Crash.net
Is the first time in your career that you'll be riding the same bike for the following year?

Chaz Davies:
The last time that I rode the same bike for two years in a row was when I rode a 250 Aprilia back in 2005. But that bike wasn't really the same bike because we changed chassis so this bike will genuinely be same so it will be nice to start the winter and not have anything new to learn. I'm really looking forward to it.

Crash.net
The Circuit of Wales has been announced as the host of the British Grand Prix from 2016, what are your thoughts on the circuit and have you had discussions with any of the people behind the project?

Chaz Davies:
I've been chatting with a couple of the guys involved since the idea was first announced and I speak to them reasonably regularly to get updates on it. They're definitely up against it and it's a difficult road but you can see the commitment because what they've already done and the hoops that they've jumped through are never ending. That's a testament to how much they want it to happen and how behind it they are. It's gone a very long way already and I'm obviously fully behind it. It's only half an hour down the road from my house and it would be a true home race for me. I think that some people have questioned the need for it because we have Silverstone and Donington Park but there's no true world class bike facility in the UK.

Crash.net
What would you define as a world class facility? Would you look at the likes of Abu Dhabi in Formula 1?

Chaz Davies:
No because there's no character in Abu Dhabi, it's very swanky but it's all glitz and glamour. A bike race track should be somewhere like a modern version of Laguna Seca filled with ups and downs and stuck on a hillside! A place like Portimao as well. The good thing that I see about the Circuit of Wales is the development programmes and the technical facilities that they'll have on site. There's so much more to it than just a race track. I'm totally behind it and I think it is needed but I also think that there is, without a doubt, a need for a strong development programme in the UK because if you want to ride Flat Track in the UK you have to look very hard to find somewhere. There's no schools set up for it and stuff like that is all good training for modern race tracks.

Crash.net
You've got your karting track was that something that you wanted to do to try and help that development?

Chaz Davies:
It's my dad's business and he saw a need for it and being a big kid he wanted a kart track! So he bought the property and started it off as a dirt track but then he laid all the bricks by hand and laid over 22,000 of them by hand and then he raised enough money to tarmac it and that was his business. As a kid growing up it was ideal for me because I was riding mini-moto and I'd go out and learn my craft.

Crash.net
Do you think as an established British rider that without the infrastructures in place for young riders that you try and help young riders coming through or do you have to concentrate on your own racing?

Chaz Davies:
At the moment I'm concentrating on racing but I think that when I stop racing I'd like for kids to have it a bit easier than I did up coming up and having to jump from one paddock to the next. I had to just figure it all out as I was going along and was never really taken fully under an academy wing so it was a bit of an effort to do it in the UK but it wasn't right. I was part of an academy in the UK with other riders but it wasn't ideal and it could have been a lot better. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money but it has to be a place where kids can learn tricks and ride motorbikes. There's no need for it to be flash.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Davies, Australian WSBK test and race, 2014
Davies, Australian WSBK test and race, 2014
Davies, Australian WSBK test and race, 2014
Davies, Australian WSBK test and race, 2014
Davies, Australian WSBK test and race, 2014
Davies, Australian WSBK test and race, 2014
Shaina Salvia, Jonathan Rea [Credit: Imre Paulovits]
Shaina Salvia, Jonathan Rea [Credit: Imre Paulovits]
Mercado, SSTK1000,  German WSBK 2016
Moser, SSTK1000,  German WSBK 2016
Staring, SSTK1000 Race, German WSBK 2016
Staring, SSTK1000 Race, German WSBK 2016
Staring and Mercado, SSTK1000 Race, German WSBK 2016
Mercado, SSTK1000 Race, German WSBK 2016
Staring, SSTK1000 Race, German WSBK 2016
Staring, SSTK1000 Race, German WSBK 2016
Mercado, SSTK1000 Race, German WSBK 2016

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