Chaz Davies has hauled himself up the World Superbike Championship standings after a marvellous performance at Miller Motorsports Park saw him challenging for a podium for the first time.
The reigning World Supersport Champion has endured a frustrating start to his Superbike endeavour with ParkinGO MTC Aprilia, but flashes of speed at Assen and Donington Park suggested a breakthrough result was imminent.
As it happens, Davies would enjoy a positive weekend in the United States, qualifying in a new best of 11th position before riding to seventh at the end of race one, the Welshman even getting the better of title contender Tom Sykes in the closing stages.
However, it was in race two that Davies's Superbike challenge came of age as an excellent start from tenth on the reformed grid saw him up to fourth by the end of the opening lap. Progressing past Sykes to run third, Davies found himself as high as second when Carlos Checa crashed out ahead.
Proceeding to fight for the lead with Marco Melandri, Jonathan Rea and Max Biaggi, though the former two riders would eventually break away, Davies embroiled himself in an entertaining scrap with 2010 champion Biaggi throughout the second-half.
In the end the more experienced rider would get the better of Davies, but his fourth place finish still represents a major step forward for both rider and team.
“If race one went well, the feeling is was even better in the second race. The adjustments by the team to make the bike better out of corners were immediately successful and the arrival of the red flag allowed me to make an even better start that took me into the front group from the beginning.
“Unfortunately, the tyre wear prevented me from fighting for the podium at the end of the race, but I think fourth is a fitting tribute to the team, who like me are also debuting in this class and until now had never fought for positions this far up the field.
“What we need for the future are small adjustments that allow us to replicate a race like this and stay firmly in contention for the top. I must add that I enjoyed riding my Aprilia and I want to thank Giuliano Rovelli and the entire team that supported me during the difficult start of the season.”
Davies's result sees him jump from 19th to 13th in the overall standings, just 22.5 points adrift of Jakub Smrz in tenth.