After having focused on confirming the 2016 Panigale R base setup in the two-day test earlier this week, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team took to the track once again in Phillip Island for the first official practice sessions of the season. Given the new format – which splits the races between Saturday and Sunday (both at 3 p.m. local time, 5 a.m. CET) – the team prioritized consistency over the race distance, working at length with used tyres to evaluate their performance on a historically demanding track.
Davide Giugliano finished in seventh position in the combined time sheets (+0.662 behind Sylvain Guintoli, who set the provisional best lap with a 1:30.865), taking three tenths of a second off his personal best in between sessions, and trying the new rear-tyre options brought by Pirelli specifically for this track.
Chaz Davies made two prolonged runs in the morning session, showing a pace in the high 1:31 mark, but suffered some grip issues during FP2, where he still managed to improve by two tenths. The Welshman finished in eighth position (+0.728), right behind his teammate. Both riders qualified directly for Superpole 2.
Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #34) – 1:31.527 (7th)
“Overall, it’s been an undoubtedly positive day. We worked a bit more on performance during the tests, and we’re now focusing on consistency to make the difference during the race. We prioritized pace, with some really good results. We still miss a bit of overall quickness, just two or three tenths to stay within the top three, but I’m confident I’ll find them together with my team. I’ve made a couple of good runs with different tyres, so the choice will just depend on the weather. I’m also curious about racing with the new schedule, which seems good to me.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 1:31.593 (8th)
“In the morning I was quite satisfied with my performance, but in the afternoon we ran into some issues and, when we understood how to fix them, it was too late to work on the bike. It’s a bit unfortunate, because with the new format we have about half an hour less of track time on Saturday. Anyways, we’ll make some bigger changes tomorrow to find more grip. The pace at the top has been progressively faster and, while I’m confident about my speed over the race distance, we need to improve our performance on fresh tyres.”