2017 Lausitzring World Superbike Race 1 Notes: From Underwater To The Crest Of A Wave

Chaz Davies had kept his cards close to his chest prior to Race 1 in Germany. Starting from the second row of the grid the Ducati rider stormed into second at the first corner and into the lead on lap two. For that point onwards he controlled the race with a well judged ride that showed remarkable consistency.

Grinding out fast lap after fast lap he turned the screw on Jonathan Rea in second until ultimately the Kawasaki had had to concede the race and it allowed Davies to cruise to the line. For Rea the 20 points allowed him to extend his championship lead over Tom Sykes but it was a hard fought and well earned podium.

“In the beginning and middle parts of the race I felt I had the pace to be with Chaz,” said Davies. “I just tried to say stay there as long as I could and hope that the gap would open up behind to Tom. I started to suffer with the right hand side of my rear tire and it was a struggle to make the lap times. Through some of the right-handers I felt on ice a little bit. I just had to manage my own race.

“When Chaz was eking out a gap there was nothing I could do to win. So I put all my effort into keeping a solid rhythm and preserving the tire for the last laps. Until we all put our heads together and look at the data we will not really know if we chose the correct rear tire option today.”

That rear tire choice centered on using the softer compound SC0 tire. It was a decision that surprised many, given the low track temperatures of 32°C. Typically in WorldSBK the harder Pirelli is used in cool conditions, and the softer tire in the heat. The Lausitzring was on the edge of the temperature range for the soft tire, with one engineer saying, “If track temperature was four or five degrees warmer we would have used the softer tire. As it was I think it was a risky move to use the compound so we opted for the safer choice.”

That safe choice was also used by Davies, and ultimately it proved to be a key part of his arsenal in the race. The Welsh rider rode superbly and while the circuit was underwater yesterday after a heavy storm it was Davies who was riding the crest of a wave today.

“I found myself in a good position in the early laps,” said the victor. “When I took the lead, I just tried to set my pace without looking at the lap times and we came out on top. The rhythm was good, but there is still room for improvement ahead of Race 2. We’ll start from 9th position but I think this track offers opportunities for overtaking and we’ve worked on our starts recently, finding more consistency, so I’m in for another interesting race.”

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I must say, I have not been a fan of some of the recent writers filling in for David. But this article is pretty good and I thank Ken for his view and the style he presenting it. I liked his use of rider quotes in particular.

I think my complaint of David's fill-in writers is that they try too hard at 'wordsmithing'. It makes reading the article too confusing when trying to interpret the message the author intended. Even though I am a life-long motorsports enthusiast, I like the 'straight ahead and faster' style of writing... That is not to say I didn't appreciate their work. I did! I am just saying their written portrayal of events should be less 'creative' and more to the facts as they unfolded.  

Well I for one am not going to bash WSBK for it's level of competition/excitement, other than to say I fell asleep during both Qualifying and Race1 when watching recordings later yesterday evening.  :)  I woke up with 4 laps to go and saw Rea stalking Davies but was glad to see him pull clear to a nice win (what I saw of it).  Not sure exactly why but I find Davies a really likeable guy, his joy when winning is somehow so well conveyed by his body language, not sure if it's his tall frame being quite different to most riders or what.  There's no contrived lame theatrics, just a pure expression of happiness.

Such a shame about those crashes when he was pushing what appears to be a slightly inferior package just that tiny bit too hard earlier in the season - but for those we'd have an absorbing championship at least between the two.  Davies positively stormed home last year, while Rea had a shocker (admittedly contributed to by mechanicals).

BUT.... I think I have reached the tipping point of whether I can be bothered to watch race2 tonight.  The podium places are just SO predictable, unless Davies crashes you'll have him and the two Kwaks, almost guaranteed (happy to be proven very wrong).  There's good battles down the order if they're covered, but it's all too often just showing the inevitable shaking out of the order between the 4 best bikes/riders.  If everyone stays upright then Rea usually beats Sykes, Davies usually beats Melandri and how those two pairs mesh is dependant on circuit and conditions.  

I'll concede there is significant entertainment to be gained from post-race footage of Melandri and his missus though.

If Davies had settled for podium a few times, instead of pushing the bike into the gravel traps, I think the championship could've looked very different. His four DNFs could've easily resulted in relaxed podium finishes, meaning anything from 64 to 100 points. That would've put pressure on Rea.

Instead, we've got a snoozefest of a championship with no-one but the four top bikes challenging for podium, with riders who have been around for the better part of a decade. Boring! Every single support class was more entertaining I think. Time for everyone to get their heads together and figure out what to do with the World Superbike championship! 

If Chaz had completed every race I would be happier. I don't really expect miracles. If Chaz Davies had settled for podiums or points finishes rather than leaving the track in the back of an ambulance, the championship would've looked very different. Even a few points is better than a DNF. I know Chaz is a racer, trying too hard & crashing is preferable to being slow, but when will he learn to ease off a skerrick & keep it together? I hope it will be soon. Maybe next year, last chance for Davies on the Ducati Twin.