By Haydn Cobb

Having proven himself as Aruba.it Racing Ducati's lead World Superbike rider since joining the team in 2014, Chaz Davies appears to be the sole resistance against the Kawasaki domination having taken three wins so far in 2017 and the only rider outside of the factory Kawasaki pair to reach the top step of the podium in the past 12 months.

Crash.net sat down with the 30-year-old to reflect on his recent rise in World Superbikes, a Ducati MotoGP test, and what he thinks of his world title rivals Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes...
Crash.net:
Looking back on your 2017 World Superbike season up to now, how would you assess it? [Interview held on the Thursday before the Donington Park round].
Chaz Davies:
At Imola you always feel that extra bit of pride riding for Ducati and having won the past four races there it makes it special. It is one of those races where I try to soak every bit up as there are a lot of people there and a lot of passionate Ducati fans who support me and the team until the end. When you win there you have to look around and soak it all up. It can be hard getting from the truck to the garage because of all the fans and at times you feel a bit like a rockstar because everybody wants a little bit of something so anything you can give them, they want it. It is an amazing feeling.

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To race there for Ducati is one thing and to win in front of Ducati people and fans, as well as for myself, it is hands down the most special place to win when it does happen.
Crash.net:
That double win in particular, does it give you that added motivation and boost for the remainder of the season?
Chaz Davies:
The season has a long way to run so it is definitely not the time to put my feet up. It is time to work even harder as we have a gap to close down and I've got confidence in the package we just need things to go the right way for us. It is knuckle down time to claw those points back.
Crash.net:
Talking about knuckling down, we saw you were out on the GP17 MotoGP bike for a test at Mugello. How did that go?
Chaz Davies:
I went straight to Gigi [Dall'Igna] after the win on Saturday night and asked if I could have a go on his baby. We've talked about it a lot in the past but it is one of those things to organise and find the time. There are restrictions on tyre testing so any set of tyres I take from them has got to be included in the Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Stoner or Pirro allocations. It is not like they can give me a few sets of tyres and go and blast it for a few laps, they have got to manage the situation from now until the end of the year to make sure they don't use up all the tyres.

I went to Gigi and he said leave it with me for a day or two. He got back to me on Monday and managed it with a test team to find me a set of fresh tyres. It was toe dip in the water to get the feel for it. I got 30 laps and hadn't ridden at Mugello for 10 years so that was interesting enough but to actually go and figure the GP bike out in such a short space of time would have been unrealistic.

I was happy with what I did, one 10 lap run on a set of Pirro's old tyres, then a 10 lap run on a new set of tyres which I felt were a bit wasted on me until I started to get a bit of a feel for the tyres when they got towards the end of their life.


Crash.net:
How did the GP bike feel compared to say the Panigale R?
Chaz Davies:
It was very different, like day and night. They are not particularly comparable but in some ways the biggest surprise for me was the engine of the GP bike. I was expecting this beast but it actually wasn't, it was very well controlled and was a nice character of engine with electronics to help it but the base character of the engine was good.

The chassis was a lot stiffer than what I was used to, everything from the first contact, on maximum lean and even on the straights everything is just a little bit more rigid and ready to bite you!

Smaller things like the aerodynamics and the custom fairing you can do what you like but in World Superbikes we are limited to the regulation road Panigale. So when you got down the home straight at Mugello you are doing 300kph or more the coverage from the fairing on your shoulders under the bubble you don't feel much but when you hit the brakes it is like someone trying to rip your neck off.

Crash.net:
Davies on a GP bike, could it be seen as a sign for the future?

Chaz Davies:
I don't know to be honest, that's the simple answer. It isn't dependent on me, my ambition is strong, but sometimes you have to look at the situation to see if there is an opportunity and whether it is the right one. Is it the right bike or the right surroundings on it.

The only reason for me to leave World Superbikes to go to the big show is to go on the right terms to give myself a proper crack at it. I am 30-years-old this year and it is the time when you need things to be stable - whether it is this paddock or MotoGP - and I don't want to be building myself up on something uncompetitive in MotoGP because that is a waste of my time. So, right now I don't know.

Crash.net:
That makes perfect sense. Moving on to looking at yourself as a rider, how much have you changed between first joining the Aruba.it Racing Ducati squad to today?

Chaz Davies:
I think that things have progressed quite a lot. As a rider you always progress, that is part of the reason why I don't really live much in the UK anymore as I am trying to progress by going to other places and working on myself. That is part of it but at the same time the bike has progressed a lot. The team has always been very good but the progression has been partly from me and from them.

Crash.net:
Do you feel an adopted Italian and is that something you enjoy?

Chaz Davies:
I do and yes it is, I love working with Italian people, the Italian way is a mix of fun and about getting the job done so being serious when you need to be. At the same time I can have a laugh with the team. Also, the Italian people are superb. Italy might be known for being quite chaotic but I enjoy that element and when they do something they are very efficient at it so it is a character trait I like.

Crash.net:
Before we let you get back to it, we just want to throw some names at you and can you let us know your first response when you hear that name? We'll start with an easy one that is your team-mate Marco Melandri.

Chaz Davies:
Marco is experienced and very analytical with the data and in the garage, this year especially having been away for a little bit last year, so this year he is really motivated. Marco and I have a very good working relationship and I think he is good to have to help bike development.

Crash.net:
Ernesto Marinelli.

Chaz Davies:
Tall! Experienced and has seen the entire Ducati World Superbike story, certainly the last 20 years of it, and he has some good stories. He's worked with a lot of big name guys so he is very experienced and he is the boss.

Crash.net:
Casey Stoner.

Chaz Davies
He is fairly fast... the hardest-headed person you'll ever meet but with good reasons behind it. He knows how to pedal a motorcycle. When you stand on the side of tracks, not necessarily big ones in MotoGP, but kart tracks or dirt tracks, what you see leaves your jaw on the floor. I'm not sure if he is still doing that sort of thing now but he is ridiculous.

Crash.net:
Jonathan Rea.

Chaz Davies:
Adversary. I think he is the biggest rival of my career. He is somebody I respect because Jonny has been there through tough times with equipment that doesn't match his talent level and then with equipment which does he makes the most of it. For that reason - winning world titles back to back and leading this year - I can only take my hat off to that and respect it. It doesn't take away from me wanting to knock him off his perch though!

Crash.net:
Tom Skyes.

Chaz Davies:
Jovial! Stop-and-go but at the same time, for example at Donington Park, you'd think he'd struggle with the first part but he rips down Craner Curves and goes up the other side pretty well. He has a unique style and kind of unconventional but very, very fast. I like racing against Tom, he is a fair rider.

Crash.net:
Perfect, thanks very much for your time.

Chaz Davies:
No problem, thanks.

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That answer about Rea... All that bs about respect. yeah ok then chaz, jog on.