Marco Melandri paid tribute to his Aruba.it Ducati team after making the perfect start to the 2018 WorldSBK season at Phillip Island. The Italian chased down early leader Tom Sykes to claim a surprise victory in a tactical battle of tyre management in blustering conditions.
Ducati had been expected to suffer more than most due to the winter rule changes which impose rev-limits on each machine but Melandri praised his team for providing him with such a strong package regardless of the changes.
“It’s been a fantastic race. Sykes got off to a strong start and it wasn’t easy to follow him and Rea early on. As the race went on, I managed to cut the gap. Once in the lead, it wasn’t easy anyway because the wind gusts were even stronger. The last lap seemed to last forever, but we hung on and brought home the victory. I want to thank the whole team for the hard work done throughout the winter. Tomorrow we’ll need to get a blistering start from third row, and we can still improve some details, but I expect another solid race.”
Team-mate Chaz Davies completed an outstanding day for Ducati in third and after an injury-hit winter, the Welshman was pleased to kick off the campaign with a rostrum.
“I’m really happy with this result. It’s been a tough winter, so it’s great to start the season on the podium. The race itself was different than usual here, everybody pushed hard from the very beginning. I had a fun battle with Forés and I didn’t expect Rea to have whatever problem he ran into and drop back, but I seized the opportunity when it came. This morning I had a great feeling on used tires, but in the race we struggled a bit more, especially with the left side of the tire, and the bike moved a bit too much. Otherwise, I think we could have fought at the top. We’ve been improving session by session, and I’m happy with the bike now. The goal is to fight for the win tomorrow.”