British rider Chaz Davies starred in one of the most unlikely MotoGP stories on the opening day of the American GP in Laguna Seca.
Drafted in at the 11th hour to ride the D’Antin Ducati GP7, it was somewhat fitting for America to be the scene of his first ever MotoGP ride as even Hollywood would have struggled to have scripted today’s events for the British rider.
Called up to replace Alex Hofmann after the German broke his left hand in a collision with Sylvain Guintoli at the Corkscrew this morning, Davies had less than two hours to prepare for his first MotoGP ride in this afternoon’s second free practice session at a sun-drenched Laguna Seca circuit in California.
And he didn’t even get chance to sit on the bike before starting the session having a whirlwind tour of the bike from D’Antin and Ducati engineers.
Davies, who started the Laguna Seca weekend expecting to ride a Yamaha R6 in the AMA Supersport race, said: “I was just sat in the motor home having a drink and just waiting for our Supersport session. A guy from IRTA and the D’Antin team were walking our way. And I was like, I wonder what this is about? I saw them heading towards me. They said I guess you know what this is about and I twigged. Five minutes later I was in my leathers.”It was completely out of the blue. My heart was 220 beats a minute. I was in total, total shock and its such a good opportunity.”
Davies said he had never been more nervous in his life before the start of the session that saw him clock a best lap of 1.26.459, which was just 3.462s off MotoGP world championship leader Casey Stoner’s best time and 2.7s adrift of Valentino Rossi.
Talking about his dream ride on the GP7, which has won five races in 2007 in the hands of Stoner, Davies added: “Amazing, amazing bike. The fastest bike I’ve ever ridden is a 600. To ride something like this, to get on a MotoGP bike is unbelievable. To ride a bike with this much power and the tyres it is totally alien. I’ve a lot of learning to do tomorrow but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thank you to D’Antin Pramac team as well and also thanks to my team in America, Celtic Racing, because they let me do it. It’s an opportunity you can’t knock back.”
A somewhat shell-shocked Davies added: “I didn’t have time to adjust levers, brakes or anything. It’s lucky actually because Alex is my size so I was straight into his leathers and straight on to his bike. It’s an excellent bike. The power is really nice. I don’t know what to think without riding it and not changing many things on it. I just got to ride it and got to learn. It feels so weird. It feels a lot lower than my 600. The pegs to seat clearance is less than the 600.”
Davies is a long-time pal of Stoner but said he didn’t even have time to speak to the MotoGP world championship leader before taking to the track “I didn’t have time. I had about 20 minutes before, so I’ll wrack his brains tonight, “said Davies, who was briefly able to sit behind Rossi at the end of the session.
“Did they show it on TV? I’ve just got to learn where the power is on this thing. Just get to the thing cracked on. I went in with him a couple of times but ran a bit wide. But going in isn’t a problem. You’ve got to learn how much power you’ve got and how well traction control works, which is obviously very well.”