Ducati WSB chief Marinelli takes stock ahead of round two
Even as the many experienced heads and hearts in the WSBK paddock go, Ernesto Marinelli has pretty much seen it all over the years.
Even so, the visit of the WSB world to Australia for the final pre-season tests and then the race weekend provided a series of unusual highs and lows that included official Aruba.it Racing Ducati WSB rider Davide Giugliano suffering two fractured vertebrae in testing, the immense Ducati icon that is Troy Bayliss coming back for the weekend as a late substitute, and then Chaz Davies riding to within a fraction of a second of the first Panigale WSB race win - not one but twice.
With Giugliano safely back home and on the road to full recovery and Davies right in the early championship fight, Marinelli could turn his attentions to just how much was achieved on track by Davies in the new era of WSB racing.
Race day’s successful results were in large part the consequence of a tyre management process that began days before the actual 22-lap races themselves. “I was very pleased with Chaz’s weekend and he worked really, really well since the first day of testing on the previous Monday,” said Marinelli. “We knew Phillip Island was a big challenge for us because we always had issues with the rear tyre, with blistering on the edge. For some reason our bike has always been a bit more critical than the others. He had had been focusing on that since the Monday before the race and I think he did a very good job through the whole pre-season and also on raceday. He was definitely there fighting for the win all the way to the end. Of course at this part of the season he would have had to risk probably too much to fit the blade into it. At this point, starting with two thirds, all those points, it is definitely good – also considering now he is our winning chance, because of the injury for Davide. Having him miss four races is something that is a bit hard.”
For Marinelli, exactly when Giugliano comes back will be determined by his rate of recovery to full fitness. “It is too early to say with Davide,” he stated. “He made a visit to a specialist in Modena and for now he said that 90 days is normally a reasonable time to get back fit to 100%. Now is the time we need to see how he will react, how he will heal, and there are some special treatments that can help the healing process. This first month he needs to be quiet, not needs to be stressed or anything, and in a couple of weeks from now we will do a second check on his status. After that you can start to have an idea how his recovery is going. Of course we all wish to have him back as soon as possible but also we want to see him back when he is completely fixed and out of the risk area. The doctors confirmed his fractures are on the L1 and L2 vertebrae. The top one is more like a compression fracture and the bottom one is more like a perpendicular one.”
The immediate decision for Ducati is who will replace Giugliano for the next round in Thailand on 22 March. That is coming soon, it appears. “This is the big question we have at the moment. It is still under discussion so we have not made a decision yet but we should make it before the end of the week, about what to do” affirmed Marinelli.
The supplementary question, after an up-and-down experience for high profile PI substitute Bayliss, is will he be back for more in Thailand? “You never know with him,” said Marinelli. “Riding in Australia kind of revved him up, so right now he is back in training and he liked the taste of the motorcycle again, so… He had fun and racing is what he likes to do, so I dunno. We have not taken a decision yet.”