World Superbike: A Conversation With Chaz Davies Factory Ducati World Superbike rider talks with Cycle World Technical Editor Kevin Cameron.


Kevin-Cameron-and-Chaz-Davies-2 Kevin Cameron: Putting on a soft tire for qualifying, maybe going a second or whatever faster, what effect does that have on the rhythm you’ve established at a different lap time? Chaz Davies: Sort of a brain recalibration. Sometimes you can put it on and find over a second. Other times you can put it on and find a few tenths. Mentally, you have to prepare yourself for the extra grip. You’ve only got one shot at it, so if you don’t know the tires too well, you can spend the first quarter or third of the lap coming to terms with the amount of grip that you’ve got. By the time you’ve figured out, you’ve already wasted a few tenths. KC: Years ago, US rider Mike Baldwin stayed at my house, which was in a terrible state of disrepair, so he slept in the kitchen. In the middle of the night, there was this loud bang. I called out, “Are you alright?” And he said, “I lost the front end.” CD: Sounds like he did it properly—hit the deck. KC: I’ve talked with so many other riders who were running laps in their heads while waiting for a dentist appointment. Like you said, they are preparing themselves mentally. CD: Sometimes you don’t switch off. I usually sleep very well on Saturday night. I sleep worse on Sunday night. It’s strange. Because of all the adrenaline, I usually get 3 or 4 hours of sleep, maximum, on Sunday night. KC: It affects journalists, too. When I get home from a race, I have so many new things in my head that I just spend several days walking around the house. I can’t do a lick of work. Do you notice any change in grip from a tire as you progress through a fast corner? CD: Yeah. If you’ve got a long corner, the tire temperature is growing and growing. If you’ve got a series of long corners—like the triple right in Misano or the last 2 rights at Portimao—there’s a lot of spinning. Sometimes the tire can drop off, a heat spike, but as soon as you pick the bike up, the temperature starts to drop again. KC: I remember Erv Kanemoto saying that Freddie Spencer’s line would change, obviously, during the first 3 laps, but it would also change in the course of a corner. He could pull the bike around tighter as the tire temperature came up. All this talk about the right line? It’s the line you feel. Not something you could draw. CD: I suspect it changes, as well, with tire technology. The tires back in the Spencer days were a different game to how it is now, but testing at the start of the year, we shared the tracks with MotoGP. And their lines, from what I could see on a Superbike, are pretty much a meter wider at every entry. They are able to turn it and still hit the apex—they’ve got the grip. You think that they’ll never make the apex, but that’s just how it works. I don’t know if it’s just tires. It could be chassis and everything else, but there’s a big difference. KC: Last year at Austin, I asked Marc Marquez what the biggest contrast was between what he had done before and with MotoGP. He said, “The front tire. With the front tire, you can just load the thing up like crazy and it just holds.” And that’s what you’re seeing. I noted when your teammate, Davide Giugliano, came in, they immediately took the clutch out, and it sat there smoking. I’ve heard the slipper feature puts a lot of extra heat in the clutch. The mechanic took the thing over to the bench and he struck it with a hammer, just lightly, and it went bing. So he must have decided, “Okay, it’s not cracked.” CD: My guys check the clutch after every session. It gets a lot of abuse around here. I think we’re running the same gearing, which we usually are, or very close. Our overall ratio is really tall, so for our practice starts, we’re hanging onto the clutch for a long time—giving it a lot of abuse. I think it’s even more critical here to check it after every session and make sure it’s all good.
Kevin-Cameron-and-Chaz-Davies-2 Ducati's-Ernesto-Marinelli-(standing)-checks-in-the-Davies-and-his-engineer Post-qualifying-de-brief-at-Mazda-Raceway-Laguna-Seca Kevin-Cameron-and-Chaz-Davies

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