Newly crowned World Supersport Champion Chaz Davies made his WSB debut at Portimao this week riding an Aprilia RSV4. Davies was expected to make the step up to WSB with his ParkinGO team onboard a Ducati 1198, but a change of plan saw him get his first ever laps onboard a Superbike on an Aprilia.
Although there has been no official statement from the team it now looks certain that they will use Aprilia machinery instead of Ducati. The reason for the change is two fold. Firstly the new 2012 technical regulations that mean that Ducati will be required to start the season with an extra 6kg compared to their four cylinder rivals. There is also the issue of the future balancing rule which could see all Ducati’s on the grid penalised with further weight should Ducati excel once again and WSB champion Carlos Checa produce similar results to his dominant 2011 season.
The second reason is that the team are concerned just how many Ducati’s will be on the grid in 2012. Currently there could be anywhere between six and eight 1198’s in 2012 – two for Althea – two to four for Effenbert, One for Ducati Rome with the possibility of another one man team. MCN understands that the ParkinGO team have question marks over the level of technical support they would receive from the Italian manufacturer if they are supporting so many teams.
Aprilia have made no secret of their desire to have more bikes on the grid and with the two man factory team of Max Biaggi and Eugene Laverty, the chance of PATA Aprilia continuing and now Davies onboard the ParkinGO Aprilia there could be four RSV4’s.
Despite spending two days on track, Davies’ first test was cruelly hit by bad weather with heavy rain and winds. His first laps were completed in the wet, but he did manage 20 laps in the dry on day two.
Speaking exclusively to MCN after the test, Davies said: “It’s certainly a bit different riding a 230bhp Superbike for the first time in the wet. But I managed to get a basic feeling of the bike and the lap time wasn’t too bad considering the conditions.
“I have to admit I had a smile on my face the first time I got to really open it up out of the last turn and onto the straight in the dry. It’s been nice to go out on track and see the big darkies I had laid out of some of the corners on the lap before – it’s been good fun.”
Davies wasn’t just hampered by the lack of dry track time, even when the track did dry it was very dirty and with only him and Aprilia test rider Alex Hoffman on track the grip levels remained low. Despite that he was still posting impressive 1.45’s lap times.
“I had to adjust my riding style to suit the bike, but the power wasn’t a big problem because I’d ridden the Ducati MotoGP bike which was quite aggressive. The Aprilia was very smooth, especially the electronics which compared to my WSS bike was more refined and didn’t upset the balance when the electronics did cut the power.
“I’ve still got so much to learn and in a way it’s like going back to my days on a 250 where you have so much adjustability. We only organised the test two days before there wasn’t any real option to change the bike and there are a few simple things we could do for me to be more comfortable.”
Davies will now have to wait until the end of the month where he will get a three day test at Portimao, but this time it will be his first appearance on track alongside his rivals
He said: “It’s been a good start and I need to walk before I can run but at least I’ve now got a basic feel for the bike. It took me three races this year to really understand the Yamaha R6 properly. There’s a lot of scope with this bike, it’s got massive potential and there is a lot more to come.”