Both Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies have been left deflated by Ducati’s grip and stability issues plaguing its pace at Donington Park as the Italian manufacturer suffered its worst World Superbike race in over three years.
The Aruba.it Racing Ducati duo were hit by instability woes at the British circuit while also suffering from a lack of expected grip from the Panigale which saw the pair’s pace well off its usual front-running challenge.
While Melandri lowsided off at Goddards while chasing his teammate, Davies conceded he had to settle for a maximum of eighth place at the risk of a similar fate. Junior factory Ducati rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi ended the race down in 12th place while the only independent Ducati rider Xavi Fores retired with a technical issue. The results mark the Italian brand’s worst race in the championship since race two in Thailand in 2015.
“It has been a difficult weekend for us, even in the wet, and we don’t understand why,” Melandri said. “The bike is very difficult here, it is very difficult to stop and to make the bike turn as it is very unstable. It is very bad.
“At that corner Chaz was a bit faster than me, I was a bit faster than him in the first two sectors, but it was so difficult for me to pass him there so I was trying to stay closer to him. I just lost the front, it is a shame.
“I don’t know but it looks like every Ducati rider is struggling a lot here. I already have too many problems on my side to ask what the other guys have problems with!”
Davies has echoed his teammate’s comments and fears its pace drop is a combination between its issues felt from Imola along with circuit-specific problems. Ducati’s last win at Donington Park came in race two of the 2011 round with Carlos Checa and the Althea Racing squad.
“I thought I could have a sniff of the podium but realised after a couple of laps, that I didn’t have that much grip and the bike wasn’t particularly stable,” Davies said. “I tried to figure out how to get the best from it and to do that it meant going slower to go faster, that kind of thing, being smooth.
“The bike is quite different to Imola but some of the issues are similar. Imola was a struggle and here is no different.”
Ducati’s problems have been compounded by the pairs’ expectations having been very high heading into the British round despite a couple of tough and win-less rounds at Assen and Imola.
“I thought the bike had been working good here and I was confident but suddenly we had a nightmare,” Melandri said. “Everything looks very difficult this year as we struggled with the new rules, the gearbox and the bike doesn’t stop or want to turn and changing direction we are very slow.
“It is a very difficult situation and there are too many things you want to improve so we have to find out what is better to try to fix it but it is almost impossible.
“I never got the feeling I expected from the bike,” Davies added. “We’ve been struggling a little bit this weekend and then in the race it was one of the most difficult races I’ve had in a long time.
“I expected the bike to be better during the race than what it was, even compared to this morning’s session, but it wasn’t good at all. Last year here we were okay, we weren’t the fastest but we were podium contenders. Right now, we are struggling to crack the top ten.”