Major World Superbike shake-up unlikely in 2017, says Davies
Ducati's Chaz Davies believes his team and reigning World Superbike champion outfit Kawasaki will not be caught by other manufacturers this year.
Kawasaki duo Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, along with Davies, have only failed to win four races in the past two years, as the trio comfortably locked out the top three in the standings in both seasons.
In 2017, Kawasaki continues with an unchanged line-up, while Ducati pairs Davies with former MotoGP star Marco Melandri, who returns to WSBK for the first time since 2014.
Other manufacturers have also made promising steps, with Honda acquiring support from Red Bull and the services of ex-MotoGP rider Stefan Bradl, Aprilia signing yet another WSBK returnee Eugene Laverty, and Michael van der Mark joining Yamaha.
Of the three marques, the Milwaukee-run Aprilia squad looked particularly strong in the pre-season tests at Jerez and Portimao.
However, Davies reckons Kawasaki and Ducati will remain be the most consistent frontrunners in 2017.
"I think we have to wait and see, but I think the teams that will be consistently have the best package will be us [Ducati] and Kawasaki," said Davies.
"Aprilia was strong in the test but the thing for them, it will be interesting to see [their form] across the full season. For sure they are going to be fast, but with a new team, it's a factory support team but not really full factory, maybe some races could be difficult for them."
Rea leads final pre-season test
Before 2017 World Superbike season begins this weekend at Phillip Island, a final test took place at the Australian track on Monday and Tuesday.
While Barni Ducati's Xavi Fores topped the timesheets on a rain-affected first day, Rea took over on the morning of the second day to set the quickest time of the test, a 1m30.545s.
His advantage over Melandri was just three hundredths of a second, with Davies and Sykes both less than half a second behind in third and fourth.
Fores was best of the privateers in fifth, followed by MV Agusta rider Leon Camier. Aprilia's Lorenzo Savadori was seventh, ahead of the leading Yamaha of Alex Lowes.
Meanwhile, the brand-new Honda Fireblade continues to struggle, as Nicky Hayden and Bradl were only 14th and 19th respectively.
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