WorldSBK

Chaz Davies talks Ducati WorldSBK future amid Danilo Petrucci rumours

Chaz Davies says he hasn't discussed the potential of staying with Ducati for the 2021 WorldSBK season amid talk it is working to secure Danilo Petrucci

Chaz Davies says discussions over a contract renewal with the Aruba.it Ducati team for the 2021 WorldSBK Championship haven’t begun yet amid rumours his seat is under threat from potential MotoGP exile Danilo Petrucci.

Separately, Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti has revealed it would look to place Davies in a satellite WorldSBK outfit next year if Petrucci does indeed make the switch.

The Welshman has competed as a Ducati rider in WorldSBK since 2014 and emerged as the most consistent rival to Jonathan Rea between 2015 and 2018 aboard the Panigale R, taking 25 victories in that time.

However, the switch to the new Ducati Panigale V4 R proved troublesome for Davies in 2019, with incoming team-mate Alvaro Bautista overshadowing him during the first half of the year with a record run of 11 straight wins.

Nonetheless, Davies did return to winning ways during the second-half of the year to end the season strongly, even if that momentum appeared to desert him during the 2020 WorldSBK opener as he struggled to crack the top ten while new team-mate Scott Redding made it onto the podium.

Out of contract at the end of the year, Davies could well find himself levered out of the factory squad if Petrucci – who has been dropped from Ducati’s works MotoGP team – can’t source another top level seat with KTM or Aprilia and instead chooses the WorldSBK route.

“We haven’t really approached the conversation about the future, not yet, not seriously anyway,” Davies told the WorldSBK website. “Everybody is talking about ‘how do we come out of coronavirus and how do we manage the situation from this year?’ but at the same time opening up the conversation about 2021 as well.”

This is my second season on the V4. To me it is my second chance to build on what we did last year, which obviously was turbulent. We had a tough beginning and then from the middle to the end of the season we put together a lot of good races and we were pretty much on podium pace.

“Winter was a chance to improve the bike, which I think we did, but for one reason or another Phillip island wasn’t a fantastic weekend, it was a bit of a struggle. It was a poor qualifying and I did move forward in the races, but with or without qualifying I didn’t have the pace. I’m not reading into it too much and I don’t think it is a great representation of the rest of the circuits you get.

In an interview with Speedweek, Ciabatti says there is an offer on the table for Petrucci to join its team in WorldSBK to join Redding, who has a contract for 2021.

Should this occur, he says he will look to retain Davies within the Ducati fold, potentially switching to a satellite team, such as Barni or GoEleven.

“We will find a solution for Chaz. But we haven't discussed that yet because we know Danilo is clarifying his MotoGP options at the moment.”

What are Chaz Davies’ options for 2021 WorldSBK season?

It hasn’t been a positive twelve months for Davies as he struggles to get the best from the new Ducati Panigale V4, which demands a different style of riding to what he has been used to. It then didn’t help that Bautista emerged so strongly out of the box.

However, it’s true that Davies was almost back to his best by the end of the year – if a little inconsistent – while little niggles, such as that which arguably robbed him of a win at Imola, cost him a better end of season finishing position.

Even so, his anonymous turn at the start of 2020 – though better in race trim than he was over a single lap – left things on a sour note as the series went into lockdown because of the coronavirus.

The term ‘you’re only as good as your last race’ means Davies isn’t Ducati’s top choice and it’ll come down to Petrucci as to whether he gets to potentially retain his ride.

Outside of Ducati though, Davies would surely be an attractive proposition. The Welshman won races on Aprilia and BMW machinery before moving to Ducati, which would make any one of the inline-four contenders tempted by his services.

Of these, Kawasaki looks set to retain its riders, while Yamaha seems set to decide between Michael van der Mark and Loris Baz, but a berth at BMW or even Honda alongside Bautista again could well be in the offing.
    

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