Chaz Davies’ Free Practice two came to an abrupt halt today as his Ducati Panigale R burst into flames following a technical problem 20 minutes into the session.
Smoke started to emerge from the Welshman’s Ducati at the Melbourne loop but it wasn’t until he rounded Coppice that he noticed the bike feeling different as marshals ushered him off the track, as he began to slow his bike went up in flames leaving Davies no choice but to jump off.
“I knew it was on fire but I didn’t know how bad it was,” he told MCN after the session. “I thought I’d wait a second to see if anything happened as I didn’t want to just let it burn to the ground but in the end I had no choice but to jump off.
“The first thing I felt was a bit of a slip from the rear and then I saw marshals waving their arms at me but I didn’t see any flags.”
Davies was left bemused by what caused the fire as there was no indication that there was anything mechanically wrong with the bike.
“It was a bit weird, there was no mechanical noise I just felt a bit of a slip, and I think there was fuel getting around and that’s obviously ignited somehow. But there wasn’t any mechanical noise, there was smoke but it didn’t feel like the engine had let go.”
With World Superbike rules forbidding teams from having a race-prepped second bike, Davies was left furious after missing vital time in optimal track conditions.
“It’s a massive pain in the arse as we’ve lost 40 minutes of the most important track time of the weekend. Of course the morning session is important but the track is just bedding in and you want the afternoon to put the race rubber in and work on the set up for the race. You can’t do a lot though. The rules are frustrating as we’ve got a spare bike sitting in the truck anyway it’d make much more sense if we could just have it ready. It doesn’t save money, the bike and the parts are there but it’s just one of those things.”
Davies' time from the day's opening session was enough to leave him fifth in the combined practice standings.