Brit Chaz Davies is in the States this year, racing for Celtic Racing in AMA Formula Xtreme and AMA Supersport.
Here’s his story from the latest race at the California Speedway in California.
Chaz Davies’s first impression of California Speedway was it was the worst track he’d ever ridden. But that was before he took a surprise pole position in Saturday’s curtailed Supersport qualifying session.
“No I love it. It’s an awesome track. Fantastic,” the 20-year-old Brit said with a smile after taking his first AMA pole position.
Davies said he’d fitted a qualifying tire at just the right time. He was on an even faster lap when a crash by Yoshimura Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden ended the session.
Davies, who rides with the number 157, said he was squinting to see if it was his number atop the scoring tower.
He said: “Because my eyes aren’t very good. I was trying to look all the way back there at the number board. Is it 57 at the top? I found out it was, so that’s really good.”
The pole man didn’t significantly change his opinion of the road course tucked inside the tri-oval. He said he was warming to it, then added, “Actually, it’s a crap track. It’s got no character to it. It’s just another one that is what it is, so write it.
“In some ways it’s sort of fun the way it’s different, in other ways it’s just absolute crap. You can see, it’s just like a point and squirt track, but the Ducatis are really flying here in Formula Xtreme.
“It’s really helping them. I’m warming to it though, it’s not so bad.”
The track was also one where he could continue to learn how to slide a motorcycle.
“It’s the first time really where I’ve ever slid a bike properly, but just because there’s not a lot of grip here. I’m just starting to get a feel for four-strokes and letting it hang out a little bit on the way out. Just slowly, but surely.
“On two-strokes, I think that was always my weakest point, because I grew up on mini-bikes and it’s not something you can slide.
“I never did motocross as a youngster. So when I got on a GP bike, that was always my weakest point. I was always good on the entry, but on the exit that’s where I’d lack a little bit.
“But now riding four-strokes is actually teaching me where the limit is a little bit more, you can feel it, you can feel it slide.
“You get a second chance on these, where on the 250 Aprilia you don’t. Before you know it it’s sky-ground, sky-ground, so just get the feel for it.”
Davies finished a close fourth in the Formula Xtreme race at Fortuna after a last lap that saw him swap positions with third-placed Larry Pegram five times.
“I just couldn’t quite get in there, but tried hard anyway. The Ducatis point and shoot and have plenty of power.
“The last lap was pretty hectic, so I hear. I figure it was more calculated than it looked from TV. It was good, very good.
“My plan was to pass Larry Pegram with two laps to go and then put the hammer down and see if I could break him, just get a tiny gap so he wasn’t able to slipstream me on the straight.
“And anyway I got blocked by a backmarker, so I just had to make my way back up to pass him again on the last lap, then go for broke. The front tire was squelching underneath me just wanting to fold.
“I stopped it mid-turn a couple of times, just to try to baulk him a little bit, just so I could get the run on him, because I knew how much drive he could get.
“I couldn’t hear him behind me just going onto the straight, then all of a sudden he passed me like I was stood still. And then he went in there really late.
“He rode good race. Experience beat me.
The Supersport race was red flagged three times and started four times. Davies was originally on pole after qualifying and was fifth in the race when he tried to pass Roger Lee Hayden on the outside going into the infield.
They touched, and Davies ran off the track, dropping to 13th but fought back to claim ninth.
He said: “I’ve never done that (started a race four times). Never even started off pole. It was weird. The first time I was really psyched up and nervous and the second time I was a little bit less nervous and the third time a little bit less and the fourth time I was like, I’m sixth now, I might as well go for it. So that was strange.”
Davies and Roger Lee came together – and the Brit came off worse.
“I’ve since found out, Roger doesn’t give an inch. I passed him and more or less just got in front lap two or three down the end of the back straight. Just squeezed in front of him. I could see his hand let off the brakes and then close the door on me and come across. So that was that.
“The next lap I didn’t want to be passed and get pushed back in the group or four or five or whatever it was, I got up the inside of him but it was tight.
“I was going in there and just wanted to get up the inside and for sure he saw me, but obviously didn’t pick it up. I didn’t expect him to pick it up.
“Then to the right I had the line and then we got together and touched. That’s my version of events. Whether it looks different on TV, I don’t know. It might have been that I really closed him off, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it happened. So anyway, that was that.
“We got together, I ran off in the grass. I managed to dodge a few potholes and then got back on track in, I don’t know, 13th or something like that.
“Then I just put my head down and tried to do 27’s, 27’s, 27’s. So, the times were good and just that mistake with Roger cost me. Good weekend all in all, just a little bit annoying.”