In the first of what will be regular reports on Crash.net, rising Motorcycle Grand Prix star Chaz Davies reviews round one of the 250cc series, the Japanese Grand Prix, at Suzuka - held last Sunday.

Even before he'd turned a wheel the #57 was up against it after being diagnosed with Shingles and suffering from food poisoning, but despite his depleted physical condition - and the wet/dry lottery that was qualifying - the 16-year-old Aprilia Germany rider fought through adversity to record an 18th place finish on an eventful quarter-litre debut...


"I was really looking forward to Suzuka as it is one of my favourite Grand Prix circuits. Just before we left I was diagnosed with "Shingles" but I was feeling ok! They say this could have been brought on from a previous back trauma as the nerves which are affected by shingles are connected to the spine. (I have been having some physio and massage on my back ever since the handlebar snapping incident at the Czech GP last year). Whatever it came from it wasn't causing me any problems.

"We flew from Heathrow to Frankfurt where we met up with my team and then flew onto Nagoya. We arrived at our hotel about midday. We were all very tired as we did not get much sleep on the plane and had been awake for about 20 hours. We were determined not to go to sleep until the evening to try and get in line with Japanese time. The team were going to the circuit to set up the pit box so me and Dad decided to find the shopping centre. We had to walk for about an hour and stopped for some Japanese food in a small cafe.

"While we were wondering around the shops we came across a shop with 4 electronic massage chairs so we thought we would give these a go! They were very relaxing but the only trouble was we both fell asleep and roughly an hour later I was woken up by dad snoring! I jumped out of the chair and started shaking dad. We found this quite funny but I don't know what all the Japanese shoppers must of been thinking. We couldn't understand why somebody hadn't woken us up but the Japanese people are very polite!!!!! By now it was about 8 p.m. so we took a taxi back to the hotel and went to bed.

"On Thursday I went to the circuit. The weather was fine but quite cold. I had to attend a riders briefing and have the official 250cc riders group photograph taken. After this me and dad went for a walk around the track. We were walking quite fast but it still took us one hour and five minutes. The circuit had been changed in a few places but looked ok.

"That evening I went out with my team for something to eat, then back to the hotel for an early night. I woke up at about 2 a.m. wondering what was going on as I felt very strange. I decided to make a dash for the bathroom but didn't make it! I was sick all over the floor and dad shouted at me to get in the bathroom "QUICK". I don't ever remember being really sick before so I wasn't too sure what was happening. Feeling very ill I got back into bed eventually, with the rubbish bin next to me. About an hour later I used it!

Friday - First Qualifying:

"In the morning I felt really unwell and I couldn't believe this was happening to me. The last thing I wanted was any breakfast but I thought I would try a glass of orange juice. Half an hour later I arrived at the circuit and we had just walked into the paddock and were standing outside the restaurant when I was sick again. This was very embarrassing as there were people everywhere. I went to Costa's Clinic where I was given an injection to try & stop me from being sick.

"I did not feel in any fit state to ride a motorbike but there was talk of rain for Saturday so we decided to give it a go. I had some pistons to run in for 4 laps, which I did, but I then decided to stop. My vision was blurry, I felt dizzy and I just couldn't concentrate. I felt really tired so I went back to Costa's and they said I had some kind of virus or food poisoning. They put me on a drip to get some fluids back in and I slept for a couple of hours. Dad came to see if I was fit to go out for qualifying. The doctors said it was alright to attempt riding the bike.

"During the MotoGP qualifying fine rain was starting to fall then it stopped for a short time. The track appeared to be drying and I wanted to try and get a time in as soon as possible in case my sickness or the rain returned. My mechanic asked me to go out and do a couple of laps and see how I felt. I came in to say I was ok to continue but unfortunately on my out lap for the second time we had a fuel problem and the bike stopped half way round the circuit. So that was the end of that and I hadn't managed to qualify.

"All we could hope for was that there would be a dry session on Saturday but the forecast was not so good. I went back to Costa for another drip, then returned to my hotel for a hot bath, some paracetamol and a sleeping pill. I still couldn't face any food!

Saturday - Second qualifying:

"I had slept quite well and was feeling better but when I woke up and looked out of the window it was pouring down! I have had very little time on the 250cc in the wet, only about half a day at the IRTA test in Estoril and I hadn't really got a good feeling about it. In the free practice I was starting to gain confidence in the wet and feeling happier but at the end of the session my bike seized.

"This was really my fault as I was carrying too much RPM with the throttle partially closed around the sweeping corners. This causes the bike to detonate too much and damages the pistons. My mechanics now had quite a lot of work to do before the afternoon final qualifying session.

"For second qualifying I had to run in the engine for a few laps and then I tried to get some decent wet times in. I felt quite comfortable and ended 21st in that session. There were places I could have gone faster but I was taking it one step at a time. It didn't seem possible to get within the qualifying time anyway so there was no point in trying and possibly crashing. Several riders tried and crashed.

"As it turned out some of the front runners had not qualified due to one thing or another and Dieter, my team boss, thought there would be some special allowances to race. We were informed later that everyone would be in the race. The officials decided that Friday's free practice times were good enough to qualify so I was pleased I had made the effort and done those four laps.

Sunday - Race:

"The sun was shining and I had about 8 laps in morning warm-up to try and find a dry setting. Things didn't feel very good so my team decided to use my Valencia test settings from earlier in the year for the race.

"It was always going to be a hard race from the back of the grid with a guessed set-up but we had to get on with it.

"I made a reasonable start and gained a few places but for some reason the front brake felt very snappy. I rode around for two laps thinking it doesn't feel right then on lap 3 because I wasn't fully concentrating on the circuit and thinking what the problem with the brake maybe, I found myself running off the track in the chicane. I lost about 7 seconds on that lap which put me dead last!

"The Valencia test settings were not working at all well, making the rear tyre slide all the time and changing direction was really difficult. I caught and passed a few riders and decided to try and be as consistent as possible and finish the race. I was riding around with Jaroslav Hules but I did not have the power to pass him. I tried to remain as consistent as I could for the last fifteen laps. All my times were within half a second of each other and I finished the race in 18th position.

"My team were very happy with my 18th position considering all that had happened over the weekend. My team-mate Dirk Heidolf was not so lucky, he was pushed off on the first lap resulting in a crash. I explained to the team that I did not feel comfortable with the chassis settings and after down-loading the telemetry my chief mechanic said that the engine wasn't running the way he wanted it to.

"As far as the braking problem was concerned, we were using different brake pads for Suzuka and the problem had not shown up earlier because I was either only running in or riding in the wet! Suzuka had not turned out the way I had hoped but at least I finished the race, which was important for me and the team.

"I am looking forward to the next race in S. Africa, where I hope, I can score my first 250cc World Championship Points."

Chaz #57.

PS: "Me and 125cc riders Leon Camier and Chris Martin all wore black armbands on race day in memory of Guy Farbrother, who died in a road accident earlier in the week. I had raced with Guy since 1999 and he was a friend. Me and my family would like to pass on our condolences to his family."