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Davies giving factory rivals food for thought

Davies giving factory rivals food for thought

Davies giving factory rivals food for thought

Chaz Davies sounded out a warning to his 250cc World Championship rivals with a stunning lap time on the second and final day of private tests at Valencia last week.

Davies missed the first day of the session through illness but was back on track last Thursday afternoon to humble several factory riders, lapping just 0.1 seconds off pole position pace on his privateer Aprilia machine and ending the test fifth fastest overall.

"I had a bout of food poisoning just a couple of days before the test so I couldn't ride on the first day, but I felt a lot better on the Thursday and as soon as I sat on the bike everything felt right," explained Davies, who left the likes of Andrea Dovizioso, Hector Barberá, Alex de Angelis and Simone Corsi trailing in his wake with a lap of 1'36.7 seconds.

"To be honest I was hoping to get down into the 1'37s and I didn't expect to be able to do that lap time. I remember riding really on the limit at the Grand Prix in October and only managing a 1'39.2, so to go a second and a half faster without really pushing was very pleasing."

Davies, who also celebrated his 18th birthday on the second day of the test, revealed that his extra speed came largely from a newer chassis, which has been updated from a 1998 model to a 2003 version.

"The new chassis is definitely the biggest difference with the bike. It's a lot more stable through the corners and it means I don't have to work as hard to turn it. For example, the kink coming out of the hairpin at Valencia has always been a major struggle for me, but last week it seemed a lot easier.

"Obviously the engine is still some way down on power compared to the official bikes but as far as last season is concerned we seem to have improvements in every area and I'm really happy about that. We were a second quicker at Jerez as well so I'm confident we can transfer this improvement to other circuits.

"It's going to be tough this season with all the factory boys out there but the test has given me the peace of mind that I'm going to be able to mix it up with them and that's given me a bit of extra motivation before the start of the season.

"The best thing about it is that we haven't had to sit down with the team and start wracking our brains trying to think of solutions. Everything has come very naturally so far and I was actually on an even faster lap at the end of the session but I got held up by Hector Barberá.

"My goal this year is to be the best privateer and at the test Sylvain Guintoli was my closest rival in that respect, around 1.2 seconds behind. I know it is very early days and a lot of things will happen once the season starts, but I'm pleased with the progress we've made already."

Davies returned home to England on Friday but resisted the temptation of a conventional British birthday celebration in favour of something a little more wholesome. "My Dad said it was a family tradition to drink a pint of beer on your 18th birthday but I didn't fancy that too much," he laughed.

"I've been staying with Shakey Byrne quite a bit recently doing some mountain bike training so I think I might do some more of that and then maybe go paint-balling with some friends to celebrate next weekend."

250cc, 2005

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