The Aruba Racing Ducati team today unveiled their 2018 World Superbike contender in Italy.
The team, which will campaign Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri for the second consecutive year, was launched today at the Global Cloud Data Center in Ponte San Pietro as Ducati embark on one final attempt at winning a world title with the V-Twin Panigale.
The Panigale is the only Ducati Superbike not to have won the World Superbike Championship despite having been introduced back in 2013, and with the V4 Panigale entering the series from 2019 this year presents one last opportunity to change that.
However, with rumours the new World Superbike rules could end up hitting Ducati hard it’s not yet clear whether that challenge will be possible for Chaz Davies, who finished runner-up to Jonathan Rea in both 2015 and 2017.
“It will be an emotional season,” Davies said at the launch. “This is my fifth year on track with the Panigale R. I’ve won several races with this bike, which triggers many special memories, so it will be an honour to properly send it off before the Panigale V4 debuts on track.
“The injury sustained last November has kept me busy during the winter break, but I have worked hard to make sure I am ready for the season opener.
“The new rules for sure will make it more interesting for the public. We need to do our homework but I don’t see any reasons why we shouldn’t be as competitive as in the past. We’re working hard and there are upgrades in the pipeline for Phillip Island. We are ready to battle.”
Melandri added: "This season I can count on one year of experience with the Panigale R, and I want to make it count, especially in tough times. Last year we clinched many podium finishes but in some cases we found ourselves struggling and that's the first thing we need to improve. I think the new regulations will bring more riders into the podium fight, so we need to be more consistent. We know which areas we need to focus on, so we only have to get our heads down to it. We want to achieve bigger goals."
The Aruba Ducati team will also be joined on the grid by European Superstock 1000 champion Michael Rinaldi for the European rounds of World Superbike this year.