World Superbike Champion Alvaro Bautista finished the first race of the World Superbike Championship in Phillip Island (Australia) in fifth place.
Starting from pole position, Bautista was part of the leading group at the start, but after switching to dry tyres, he could no longer keep up with the other leading drivers and finished fifth, 19.4 seconds behind.
Bautista mainly blamed his low weight on poor performance on the drying track. “It’s a disadvantage to being a light racer. But nobody sees that,” says the Spaniard, who is less able to carry a load on the front and rear wheels because of his stature. This makes it difficult for the Bautista to keep the tires at temperature in challenging conditions.
“It was a new experience for everyone – for me and for the team too. It was weird at the start when we drove in the wet. I had a worse feeling than in practice in the morning,” he compares the start of the race to a rainy FT3 one.
Alvaro Bautista is having a hard time with the setup and the tyres
“I had a hard time getting the rear tire warm. That’s why I was struggling, even when I was leading in the front group. I saw the track dry out step by step. But I wanted to make sure there was at least one dry line before switching,” Bautista said. I switched but the rain setting didn’t work well with the slick tyres. I didn’t have much confidence.”
“I couldn’t brake hard because the bike was so unstable. But the rear was also a problem,” explains the Ducati rider. “I felt like I was driving on ice. The reflexes weren’t very good. Five or six laps before the end of the race I felt a problem in the back.”
“It’s a huge disadvantage being light because I can’t move that much weight in those conditions. I’m very dependent on the bike setup. If the setup is good I can push. That was in Superpole that was the case. I managed a very good time with the tyres. SC0,” says Bautista.
Ducati also celebrates the triple in the World Superbike Championship
“But if the setting is not right, it will be very difficult for me because the bike does not want to give up,” explains the Superbike world champion. “I can’t do much because I can’t shift that much weight forward or backward. That’s a disadvantage compared to other drivers.”
“At least we’ve collected some data, if there’s another race like this,” Bautista tries to see the positive. For Ducati’s employer, Bautista’s eleven points finish of fifth was important to ensuring an initial manufacturers’ decision. And Ducati also took the title early for the teams.
“We won two more titles: the manufacturers title with Ducati and the teams title. Ducati won the triple this year in MotoGP and in the Superbike World Championship. They won it all. I am proud to be part of this team.”
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