Ducati Confirm Davies and Melandri in WorldSBK for 2017

The Aruba.it Ducati WorldSBK team have confirmed that Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri will be their riders for the 2017 season. Davies has signed with Ducati for two more seasons, while the (nearly) 34-year-old Melandri has only a one year deal. 

The announcement had been widely expected, as we wrote in our latest round up of WorldSBK Silly Season. Melandri had been working on a return to the World Superbike paddock ever since his ignominious exit from Aprilia's MotoGP team in the middle of 2015. His return has come at a price: informed paddock sources say that Melandri is to ride for free, and is bringing money to the team through sponsorship deals. Melandri is a proven commodity on a competitive bike, the only question mark being the effort he is willing to put in if he believes the bike is not capable.

The phrasing of Chaz Davies' contract extension is interesting. The official quotes from Davies in the press release speak of his joy at having signed on for two more years at Ducati. However, the press release only talks about the 2017 WorldSBK season. Davies has made no secret of his desire to make the switch to MotoGP, but he has also been very clear that he will only do so on a competitive bike and with factory support. Today's announcement clears the way for Davies to go to Pramac Ducati in 2018, though it does not mean he will necessarily end up there. Davies has a contract with Ducati, but if Pramac switch to Suzuki (which they have threatened), or if the team decides to keep Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci, then there would not be a seat there. Davies would then have to consider his options, and whether staying in World Superbikes is preferable to a bigger gamble in MotoGP.

The announcement also means that Davide Giugliano is now officially out of the factory Ducati team. The Italian has shown a lot of promise during his three-year tenure in the factory team, but he has failed to fulfil his potential by winning races. Giugliano is reported to be looking at both the WorldSBK and the Moto2 paddocks for 2017.

Below is the press release from Ducati:


The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team on track in 2017 with Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri

The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team finalized its line-up for the 2017 WorldSBK Championship, confirming Chaz Davies and signing an agreement with Marco Melandri. Chaz and Marco have already been teammates in the past with great results, their common goal is to fight for the victory at each round and aim at the Riders’ and Manufacturers’ world titles.

Chaz Davies, 29, is currently in the middle of his third season with Ducati and, thus far, has secured 9 wins and 32 podiums overall on the Panigale R, showing constant progress and winning the hearts of many Ducati fans.

“I’m extremely happy to renew my professional relationship with Ducati for two more seasons,” Davies said. “The continuity element is really important in our job, and so far we’ve made great strides and got progressively closer to our goal. Now we can fight for the win practically on every track, and I’m confident we can make further improvements. Moreover, to race for Ducati is something special: everything is done with heart and passion, you really feel part of a family and have a direct connection between the production and racing. It’s going to be exciting.”

Thirty-four-year-old Melandri, on the other hand, will return to the production-based series, where he has claimed 19 wins and 49 overall podiums in 100 races.

“I’m really excited to come back to racing, it’s a dream come true,” Melandri stated. “I always said I was only interested in a top bike and top team, and I could not have asked for more. I kept following WorldSBK closely, and I’m confident the Panigale R can perfectly suit my riding style. We’ll just have to take one step at a time, but the potential is surely high. I know it won’t be easy to get back up to speed, but I have all the time to step on the bike, do laps and make sure I’m ready for the first test: to this end, I will skip the holidays to train on a street version of the Panigale R.”

The 2016 championship will mark Davide Giugliano’s last season within the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team. In three years with the squad, the Italian rider has shown great speed and resilience, taking 10 podiums so far despite being sidelined for most of 2015 with two serious injuries. Ducati and Aruba.it would like to thank Davide for his efforts, wishing him all the best for his future career and reiterating their commitment to give him the best possible tools to achieve his first WorldSBK win.

“I had a great time with Ducati,” said Giugliano. “I learned a lot and was given a wealth of experience to draw upon, which is really important for a young rider. We also faced some difficult times, especially last year when I was badly injured, but we’ve always stayed close. We decided to take different paths, but our relationship remains strong: I’m still young, so we may rejoin forces in the future. I sincerely wish Melandri the best and would like to thank everyone in Ducati, especially Paolo Ciabatti, and Aruba.it for all their support. It’s been a great journey, which has yielded great results despite the fact that we would have liked to do more, but I’ll give my best until the end of the season to achieve bigger goals.”

Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager: “Chaz Davies has become a key member of the Ducati family, so we’re happy to announce that he will ride with us for two more years. Chaz has shown great progress and we’re confident he can take our bike to even higher grounds. In 2017, he will ride alongside Marco Melandri, who took upon the challenge with great enthusiasm. Marco is a talented rider, he has already achieved prestigious results in WorldSBK and we’re confident that the year spent without racing has not undermined his qualities. We’re obviously sad for Davide Giugliano, who will part ways with us at the end of the year, and we wish him nothing but the best. Davide proved to have great competitiveness, taking many podiums and fastest laps, and has given a crucial input towards the development of the WorldSBK-spec Panigale R. We would like to thank him and guarantee we will give him all our support until the last race to help him achieve the results he deserves.”

Stefano Cecconi, Aruba S.p.A. CEO and Team Principal: “Given that the riders’ choice is among the most important and difficult to make, as the available seats are always less than what we would ideally offer, we had to resort to our ambition and courage while taking all the necessary time to finalize the 2017 line-up. Chaz has shown he can fight for the victory each round. Davide is a young and fast rider, who can become even more competitive, so I hope it’s a ‘see you again’ and not a ‘farewell’ between us. Marco’s resume speaks for itself and puts more pressure, at any rate positive, on us: we want to help him achieve the result that, surely not due to a lack in talent, has eluded him in WorldSBK so far.”

 

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Comments

Terrible decision by Ducati but I guess nobody can resist free money. My interest in WSBK has taken another nosedive.

Total votes: 198

So one pilot coming back makes you lose interest in WSBK? I'm no Melandri fan but I wasn't a Biaggi fan either. Still watch every race because...well.... in motorbike racing. wink

Total votes: 202

A lot of other things have made me lost interest in WSBK. This is just another low.

Total votes: 184

Championship runner up in MotoGP as a privateer, 5 time MotoGP winner as a privateer, 250GP World Champion, 1 in 5 win ratio in WSB, podiums every second race in WSB, has bulk sponsorship, will ride for free......what the hell are Ducati thinkin'?

Total votes: 232

I guess they figured the therapy worked. 

Total votes: 205

Brilliant, loved the comment, I had forgotten about that minor event. If Ducati referred all the riders who's confidence thier MotoGp bike damaged to the same therapist then I guess they would have retired a rich person.

Total votes: 175

 Terrible decision by Melandri.No professional rider should NEVER EVER agree to ride for free under any circumstance,especially on a factory squad. It sets a really bad precedent for future riders. 

Total votes: 211

My thoughts exactly.  I believe Alex Barros was pushed out of a spot at Honda by Carlos Checa because Checa offered to ride for free.  It makes no sense, I realize they have sponser money, but riding for free just gives the FIM (or Dorna or whover) more power, especially when you are a proven veteren.  Young riders making nothing sucks, but it makes sense when they are trying to prove themselves. 

Taking a pay cut to help the team is admirable, but under cutting other riders by riding for free is stupid.

Total votes: 230

I very much doubt he's riding for free - he's taking money from his sponsors, and considers that sufficient compensation. At this level motorcycle racing is a market-driven sport - there's little point in whining about it.

Total votes: 208

To see a young talent being replaced by an "old" veteran. Maybe if Schwantz, Bayliss and PF Chili would like to ride again, all current riders will be kicked out of the championship:-)

Even though that Melandri once has been the youngest winner of the Assen GP2 ever and is not as long in business as per example Rossi or Hayden, his carreer seems over. It feels like a shame to see Gugliano kicked out. He will probably only find a top place in a b-class of just a mid-pack place in a prominent categorie.

Actually I think this move is quite the opposite of what is the recent trend in Motogp. Subtop riders that are performing conform expectation in their first or second year in the class are easily replaced by youngsters who bring new perspective (or fresh money?). Next year WK superbike will evolve as a championship where all current Motogp stars ride (except for the aliens)

Sometimes also when money things can move in mysterious ways.

If it is true that Melandri is riding for free, it can be considered quite worrying like settled artists that make music for free, destroying the sector. If a new talent brings money and ride for free I think this is understandable since maybe there are no other options to show your talents

 

 

Total votes: 236

Would Marco Melandri be given opportunity to earn through perfomance based pay? i.e. Win = $XXX, podium = $xx, top ten = $x

I am absolutely certain that Marco and his family will be highly welomed back into the WSBK paddock. He will have something to prove and I think we'll see the best of him in the series next year and beyond.

Total votes: 207

WSB has been a bit boring recently, so I am glad to see him back. Of course I hope he is riding up front, he's certainly not doing it for the money. He has a point to prove and if he can get his mojo back on track I think it will be great for WSB. It doesn't matter where the money comes from.

Total votes: 224

The idea of Chaz Davies going to MotoGP in 2018 seems most surprising to me. I do believe he's a great rider (probably making the Panigale look better than it really is), but he'll be 30 years old by then. Seems very late to be making a major career move like that. Can he pull it off? I'm doubtful, but if the rumour is true some people at Ducati aren't. Presumably, "people at Ducati" includes their test rider (and Chaz's best friend) Casey Stoner. Interesting times.

Total votes: 177

Chaz was riding in the 250cc class on an old Aprilla,he also had rides on "poor" satelite Ducs,

one at Laguna ended when an old rear sprocket lost its teeth,I believe the team owner said 

he didn't think it worth changing for a new one,

 

I think ,given a little time,he can do well on a decent Bike,

Total votes: 204

That could mean a lot of things. One thing for sure, it's an opportunity. It's too easy to be forgotten in this sport. I was never a huge Melandri but I give huge props to him for setting up his future. I can't see him being in the sport this log and taking a horrible deal.

 

Total votes: 178

Whatever the money side of things it's a surprise that a rider who will have been out of action for eighteen months is coming back into one of the very top seats, but then again Max Biaggi did it and was successful, so it could work. Melandri was hardly a slouch in 2014, and there could well be off-track reasons why he's been out of action as well as the MotoGP Aprilia not working out. Even so he wouldn't have been my first choice for the seat - over in WSB Ducati do seem less intent on bringing in new talent at present (replacing Leandro Mercado at Barni with the rather older Xavi Fores and 'demoting' Mercado to the Stock 1000 team for this year). That said, I wish him well.

You've got to feel for Davide Giugliano - I know he's not won a race yet but has been so close, and had not luck whatsoever last year (he pretty much stopped crashing, but the two crashes he did have kept him out for four months each). He's still young enough and has plenty of experience so with any luck a decent team will take him on - if there's an Aprilia shuffle he could get back on one of them (say Milwaukee and Ioda teams; how about Eugene Laverty, Savadori, Giugliano and Brookes? Lav, Sav and Dav has a nice ring to it) 

Total votes: 161

Not gonna lie... I've missed Manuela ; -)  Fun stuff aside, this level of sport cannot be about developing young talent. Take on Sofuoglu or Andy Reid and shine brightly in a support series and you'll get your chance. I have no idea if Marco is a pain in foot to work with, but he sure was capable of winning races. With Chaz so consistanly running at the front and Davide not being able to turn his luck around, can't really blame Ducati for trying to get someone in the second seat to give them a chance. I love WSBK and look forward to seeing some different colors at the top.

Total votes: 192