By Neil Morrison
It is difficult to believe Chaz Davies is only 26 years old.
The Welshman has treaded a colourful, yet unconventional path to the World Superbike championship and 2013 marks his first full season as a factory supported rider.
Few riders can boast the variety on Chaz's CV. He has raced everything from grand prix two strokes to MotoGP prototypes in paddocks as far away as Motegi and Laguna Seca.
This eclectic experience has clearly served him well. He won the World Supersport title in 2011 and progressed with the ParkinGO team to World Superbikes in 2012.
He finished the year strongly, collecting four podiums and his first win in the class at the Nurburgring, and his efforts were rewarded with an offer from BMW to partner six-time 2012 winner Marco Melandri in the factory Motorrad squad for 2013.
After six rounds Davies sits fifth in the overall standings, 80 points behind championship leader Sylvain Guintoli and 23 behind his teammate. The highlight so far was undoubtedly his majestic double victory at round two at Aragon, the first of his career.
This was, however, sandwiched between a crash in the second race at Phillip Island and an Assen weekend where he was forever playing catch-up after a wet Friday affected his race results. Both he and Melandri have struggled to consistently fight for podium places, week in week out, but he has shown moments of brilliance.
Considering his pre-season goal of a top five finish in the championship is highly possible, does he believe he has exceeded his expectations so far?
“At times, yeah. We definitely exceeded expectations at Phillip Island and Aragon. Since then it seems like we haven't capitalised or reached our potential. We've shown speed but we have either qualified bad or had problems with set-up. [At] Assen, Monza and Donington the Friday was wet and I think it has played a part in not helping us get where we need to be on Sunday.”
Davies had the pace to fight with the leaders at Monza and scored two top six finishes at Portimão, but problems in qualifying with the weather and crashes left him without sufficient track time.