WSB: Davies adamant Rea deliberately got in his way
Chaz Davies has apologised for the language used in his post-qualifying spat with Jonathan Rea at Assen this weekend, but remains adamant Rea deliberately blocked him on a fast qualifying lap.
The duo fell out after Rea got in Davies’ way towards the end of Saturday’s qualifying session, Davies would then hit Rea as he passed before a full blown row ensued in parc fermé.
While Rea has since admitted he did get in Davies’ way – for which he was given a three-place grid penalty for Saturday’s opening race – the Welshman remains convinced that his rival did it deliberately.
In a statement released on his Facebook page, Davies apologises for his choice of language but says he’s not sorry for calling Rea, who he refers to only as ‘#65’, out on the incident.
“While I’m sorry for my choice of language, I’m not sorry for addressing the issue in the way I did. I don’t need to detail that this sport is dangerous and there isn’t much more dangerous than a rider touring on the racing line. Add a touring rider into the path of other riders on the last lap of Superpole and it’s another level.
“Towards the end of Superpole 2, rider #65 set an incredible marker with his first lap on the new Pirelli qualifying tyres. These tyres aren’t exactly qualifying tyres, they’re called a pre-qualifying tyre and according to Pirelli should be “good for around 3 fast laps” rather than the typical 1 lap you’d usually see from a true qualifier. #65 rolled off the gas immediately after his first flying lap. That’s pretty normal when you know you’ve got everything out of your package, which, judging by his lap time, he seemingly did.
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“I completed my first flying lap. The lap went OK, but I didn’t feel like I perfected it and I assumed it was probably not good enough for the front row of the grid. So I pushed on for another bite at the cherry with a second lap. I crossed the line at the end of my first flying lap, 19 seconds after #65 completed his lap. 19 seconds is quite a large gap. For example, a full lap of cruising is, on average, about 15 seconds slower than an on-pace lap. So for me to catch up the full 19 seconds in less than half a lap, is quite exceptional. Add to that the fact that #65’s slowest ‘pit in’ lap of the entire weekend was 18 seconds slower than a full on-pace lap (1'54 vs 1'36). Yet at the end of Superpole 2 somehow he managed to lose 19 seconds in the opening 40 seconds of a full 96 second lap. In Moto3, the percentage determined to be “cruising” is 10%. Applying Moto3 rules, losing just 4 seconds would have been enough for #65 to incur a grid penalty. I wonder what penalty would have been handed down for 19 seconds?
“My second lap was underway and at the second intermediate split I was 0.051 (51 thousandths of a second) outside of my previous lap, a gap that I would definitely call 'in touch’ to improve my own lap time. I saw #65 as I exited turn 5 onto the back straight, he took a long look over his shoulder through turn 6 and with that I expected him to move well aside on what is a seriously fast part of the circuit. As I threw my bike into into turn 7, #65 was mid corner, just wide of the ideal racing line. I’m talking a bikes width but no more, definitely far from off line. In that situation you don’t know what the rider ahead is thinking or which way he’s going as he hasn’t clearly shown which part of the track he’s heading for. He stayed on that line which then on corner exit turns into what is exactly the ideal line, where the natural line is to drift out to 3/4 track width before bringing it back to setup the entry for turn 8. I had already backed out of committing to turn 7 at the very last split second on corner entry as I could see what was about to unfold. That foresight and slight lack of commitment at the speed I was carrying gave me the time I needed to be able to pick the bike up on the early part of corner exit and give enough room to avoid what could have been a massive accident. #65 again looked behind, the opposite side to where I was and I felt the need to wake him up to the severity of what just happened. I hit him on the arm as I passed and hurtled some gestures his way.
“Fast forward a couple of minutes into parc fermé and once I saw #65 I made the Italian gesture of a pinched together thumb and fingers, translate - “what the hell were you thinking?”. I expected a different reaction to what came. #65 went straight on the defensive saying he hadn’t seen me, claiming he was off line anyway, why was I on the outside of him, I shouldn’t have been anywhere near him. It was a good attempt at turning the situation around to put the blame on me. There was everything but a simple apology, which, had it of arrived straight away, would had instantly diffused the situation. At that point I tried to put across the severity of the situation, but his arrogance was off the scale. I threw the regrettable profanities at him and finally, after heated exchanges, he begrudgingly offered his hand as an apology. As far as I was concerned it was too late and I didn’t feel like it was genuine so I declined. He was happy to tell the media that is was good to see me frustrated. If you get your kicks from putting other riders' lives in danger, good for you. My reaction was genuinely not informed by any kind of frustration other than at what I perceived as dirty riding.
“Race Direction took the matter into the own hands (without any intervention from me or my team) and decided that a 3 place grid penalty was sufficient. Quite honestly, I’d have preferred to see an immediate admission of fault over the penalty that was handed down.
“After the incident, another rider who was on his 'in lap’ and saw everything unfold confirmed exactly my thoughts that #65 was looking over his shoulder with intent from early in his in lap. At turn 5 it’s very easy to glance across the circuit to all the way through turns 2, 3 and 4 to see which riders are coming. #65 stayed well off the gas, taking another look over his shoulder during turn 6 (seconds before the incident) which unfortunately wasn’t broadcast on the replay, but it is shown on the full Superpole 2 session video on the WorldSBK website (20min 52secs into the full Superpole 2 session video). I saw this look behind on track and then again on the full video clip when I was called to Race Direction - it was clear for all of us to see. #65 knew I was coming and endangered both of us with his underhand games. Of course he will deny this, but the facts, video and Race Direction penalty prove otherwise. #65 knew I would abort my lap, but, if I had have committed to turn 7, there’s a strong chance neither of us would have made the grid. I’d expect fairer play from a novice, let alone a double World Champion.
“Mistakes happen, I’ve unintentionally held up others before and have always held my hands up to those kind of mistakes. However, with the facts that were in front of me, I’m absolutely certain there were no coincidences on this occasion. On track it's usually clear what is or isn't intentional, I had the same situation last year with my team mate Davide Giugliano in Thailand, but I recognised it as an honest mistake and he was quick to admit fault. A number of riders messaged me on Saturday to say they have, at various points in the past, had the same issues - if #65 sees you as a threat he's willing to play those cards.
“So, to #65 - you're a good enough rider without these games so cut the crap and let’s continue to put on the show that is entertaining fans of Superbike, mano a mano. I enjoy the battles, the intense rivalry and hugely respect your ability/achievements, but I strongly believe on this occasion you just took it way too far. Let’s get back to old fashioned hard & fair racing at Imola.”