Chaz Davies wins opening WorldSBK race at Magny-Cours

With heavy rainfall through the early morning hours, most of the riders opted for wet tyres at the start but it was the Welsh Ducati rider who got the upper hand, riding the entire race with intermediate tyres without making a pit stop to change

WorldSBK 2016 – Magny-Cours – Race One

The French Nevers Magny-Cours track provided one of the most exciting of the current World Superbike season, not only because it was a heated competition and uncertain all the way to the end, but because it highlighted how fundamental tyre strategy choice is for a successful race.

Chaz Davies won using Pirelli Diabloe Wet intermediates, tyres that are not used very often and therefore they are not very well known or popular with the riders, but which, in track conditions with tarmac that is partially wet or completely wet but drying out, they can truly make the difference. Thanks to this choice, Chaz Davies was able to ride the entire race without stopping, while most other riders had to, in pit lane for a tyre change.

WorldSBK 2016 – Magny-Cours – Race One Recap

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) overtook teammate Rea who had started from pole position as early as the first lap. Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team) made a pit stop during the seventh lap and opened up the tyre-change dance.

WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours Race One - Rea leads Sykes
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours Race One – Rea leads Sykes

During the eighth lap, Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) overtook Rea to move into second place and then a lap later he overtook Sykes as well for the lead. In the meantime, pit stops continued with the other riders mounting dry tyres. In the ninth lap, the Althea Racing Team riders took their turn.

During the tenth lap, Lorenzo Savadori (IodaRacing Team) moved into third place, overtaking Rea, but a lap later the Northern Irishman took back the position, only to be overtaken again shortly thereafter. The two Kawasaki Racing Team riders returned to pit lane together during the twelfth lap to put on dry tyres, leaving Leon Camier in the lead with Savadori behind him and Davies in third.

WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours Race One - Jonathan Rea tyre change
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours Race One – Jonathan Rea tyre change

Savadori overtook Camier in the sixteenth lap to become the new race leader, but not long after Chaz Davies moved up from third who, thanks to his choice of intermediate tyres, did not make any pit stops to change tyres.

In the penultimate lap, Michael Van Der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team) moved up from fifth place to second, whereas in the finale it was Tom Sykes who took the bottom step of the podium. Chaz Davies, after a less than brilliant start that seemed to have relegated him to tenth place, went on to win Race 1 with an advantage of almost ten seconds over the Honda Dutchman and Tom Sykes.

Chaz Davies
Chaz Davies

For Chaz Davies, this is his first ever victory on the French Nevers Magny-Cours circuit and his sixth win of the season. Jonathan Rea, with a fourth place finish, limited the damage and earned precious points in the rider championship which he now leads with 406 points, 44 ahead of his teammate and 86 ahead of Chaz Davies.

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) 1st

“I tried to make an educated guess on tyres, as in the past we haven’t always opted for the best strategy in these conditions. Still, it was somewhat of a gamble and I knew that early on it was just a matter of survival but the reward could be great. At first, I just tried to stay on the bike as in some points it felt like riding on ice, but when I saw the gap from the front after the first few laps I realized we could pull it off. It was fun to come back through the field. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be dry and we have a good chance, but we still have room for improvement.”

Stefano Cecconi, Aruba S.p.A CEO and Team Principal

“Of all the wins we collected in 2016, this is probably the most thrilling one because of the way it was achieved, with a great mix of performance and strategy. Hats off to Chaz, who already took more victories than last year with five races to go.”

Michael van der Mark

“What a crazy race! The track started to dry before the race started and that made the tyre choice a quite difficult one. I decided to stay on wet tyres after the sighting lap because I wasn’t sure if it was dry enough for intermediates. I had a good start and battled at the front in the first laps, but after that I couldn’t get up to speed on the straights and that was quite frustrating. I decided to calm down, wait one lap and then go back to the pits for a tyre change. It proved to be the right decision and especially at the right time. In the end Chaz was the one who got it perfect and congratulations to him for the win. I’m extremely happy with my second place; it’s nice to get back on the podium and to consolidate my fourth place in the standings.”

Tom Sykes

“That was a really tricky race. Some riders went on intermediates and some on wets. I was one of those on full wets, as I wanted to be a bit safer in the early laps. Chaz went on intermediates, and it paid off for him in the end. I think we had a good race, considering we had a pit stop. After that it was definitely a good comeback through the field. The lap times were really competitive compared to the others guys. We just ran out of time, but that is racing. I am grateful to be on the podium in such tricky conditions, which could have easily gone another way. Tomorrow I hope it is fully dry and we can improve the result. In fully wet conditions we were good, also in dry conditions, so we are prepared for any of those. It is just that you can’t really make a perfect set-up for those ‘in between’ conditions. Tomorrow we will be prepared in any case.”

Jonathan Rea

“It was a race of strategy today and unfortunately we were not on the winning one. The bike was working OK and in the first part of the race I was patient, just marking time behind Tom. Our main opposition right now is Tom so when he was on rain tyres it made the decision of when to come into the pits much easier. I am just a little bit disappointed in myself for not being clear to ask for slick tyres at the pit stop. I did not have complete confidence and I expected the intermediate would last much longer, as the track was taking a long time to dry. When I saw that he had exited from the pit stop with slick tyres it was very difficult to find the same edge grip as the slick tyres had. All in all, I am happy, because we made some mistakes today but we finished fourth in the race and did not lose too many points. Being the championship leader we had to adopt the more conservative option today, rather than the more aggressive one.”

WorldSBK 2016 – Magny-Cours – Race One Results
  1. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
  2. Michael Van Der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team)
  3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)
  4. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
  5. Lorenzo Savadori (IodaRacing Team)
  6. Matthieu Lagrive (Pedercini Racing)
  7. Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)
  8. Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team)
  9. Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
  10. Alex De Angelis (IodaRacing Team)
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours Race One - Chaz Davies the victor over Michael Van Der Mark and Tom Sykes
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours Race One – Chaz Davies the victor over Michael Van Der Mark and Tom Sykes
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours Race One - Results - Superbike
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours Race One – Results – Superbike
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours - Results - Superbike Qualifyingq
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours – Results – Superbike Qualifying
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours - Results - Supersport Qualifying
WorldSBK 2016 Magny-Cours – Results – Supersport Qualifying