Motorcycling: Davies pursues factory ride to become finished article

Chaz Davies, the 18-year-old British rider, will attempt to underline his claims to a factory bike with another top-10 finish in the 250cc class of the MotoGP championship here tomorrow.

Chaz Davies, the 18-year-old British rider, will attempt to underline his claims to a factory bike with another top-10 finish in the 250cc class of the MotoGP championship here tomorrow.

Davies knows that if he can keep notching up points-scoring performances during the 17-event series, he could win a ride on a factory machine - newer, faster and better-handling - next season.

"I want to finish the year as the top rider on a privately run bike in the 250cc class," he said during yesterday's qualifying on the 2.9-mile Montmelo track. "I'm learning to be more ruthless in my riding, and I believe that I can get there."

Dieter Stappert, owner of the Aprilia Germany team for which Davies rides, said: "Chaz would be finishing in the top six if he had a works bike."

"He's improving every year, but the competition is getting tougher. The ride that gave him 10th place in Italy last week would have been worth fourth place two years ago."

This is Davies' fourth year in MotoGP - he started at just 15 in the 125cc class. He receives no salary, and has to spend £25,000 a year in travelling costs but has plenty of fans. Dorna, the Spanish company that owns the commercial rights to MotoGP, pays much of the cost of running his 170mph Aprilia motorcycle.

Davies finished only 16th in yesterday's practice sessions for the Catalunya round of the championship, 2.6 seconds behind the fastest rider, the 18-year-old Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo. "I'm struggling because the front end is tucking in every time I try to go quickly," Davies said.

Marco Melandri, of Italy, who holds second place in the championship table, topped yesterday's unofficial practice sessions in the MotoGP class, lapping in 1min 43.317secs to lead the Japanese rider Makoto Tamada and American Colin Edwards. The reigning world champion Valentino Rossi finished sixth, and Spain's Sete Gibernau, who hopes to win his first race of the season on his home track, was 11th.

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