Aruba.it Racing’s Chaz Davies narrowly missed out on the victory in the curtain opener at Phillip Island today as he was beaten to the line by just 0.063s.
Starting from ninth on the grid the Welshman made up six positions in the opening three laps and was soon up and battling for a podium spot in a group of eight.
Davies, who had a strong end to 2015 aboard his Panigale was able to keep up with race leader and reigning champion Jonathan Rea until the final lap of 22.
Making his move at the popular MG corner it was important he held his line to the chequered flag but as he went into the corner with a tight line he was forced to release the brakes and as a result lost out on claiming the first victory of the season.
Davies explains: “It was a fun battle, with many hard but fair moves. I planned to pass Rea in turn 10, but he widened his line just a bit and I was forced to get into the corner a bit too tight. I was already on the limit with the front tyre and I had to release the brakes for a moment, so he passed me again. Still, I’m very happy. Compared with last year, we’ve made big improvements with the electronics and I was much more comfortable towards the end of the race. The battle with Rea could have gone either way, and now I’ll think of a new strategy with the team. The goal is to go one better tomorrow.”
Italian team-mate Davide Giugliano made a strong return to the series, crossing the line in 4th as he comes back fully fit following his injuries which ruled him out of the back end of last season.
Starting from second on the grid the Italian was able to get a strong start off the line and stay with the leaders from the first entry into Doohan corner.
Locked in an eight rider battle for the lead and behind his team-mate Davies, Giugliano was unable to keep up with the pace of Dutch youngster Micheal van der Mark who looked like he could cross the line as the victor.
Despite missing out on the final podium spot by 0.2s the 26 year old was happy with the result: “It’s been an awesome race, both for us and the fans. This track was associated with bad memories for me, given that I had a bad injury here during the pre-season tests one year ago. Today, I barely missed pole position and fought for the podium until the very end. I’m satisfied, as it was my first race since my back injury seventh months ago.
The podium was within our reach, but unfortunately I made a small mistake in turn 4 with a few laps to go and lost contact with the front. Together with the team, I worked hard to find a setup that allows me to be consistent for the whole race distance, and to do the fastest lap at the end represents a positive confirmation. We’ve made a big step forward, and we need to keep working in this direction to be even more competitive tomorrow.”