Alvaro Bautista is the new kid on the block of the WSBK and he is certain to get into some pretty heavy street fights as he establishes himself in the World Supers gang. He is definitely not adverse to a good old brawl after his days in the tiddlers of 125cc and 250cc GP racing ascertain, before his graduation to the cauldron of MotoGP.
Of those that have switched from GP to World Supers, Bautista, at 34 years old, has arguably the second best resume behind Max Biaggi: A 125cc World Championship in 2006, second in the 2008 250cc championship behind the late Marco Simoncelli and three podiums during his nine years in MotoGP.
Not too bloody shabby.
Last year he scored 12 top ten finishes in MotoGP. An impressive result on what was a second, or maybe third-tier Ducati, so it is somewhat of a surprise to see that he was squeezed out of the MotoGP paddock.
However, with such impressive stats, Ducati showed faith and offered the seat in the factory WSBK team, at the expense of Marco Melandri. After two days testing and topping the sheets on both days with consistent sub lap record performances Bautista was, naturally, upbeat.
His best lap of the two days (1:30.303) would have put him eighth on the grid of last years Oz GP (in front of Petrucci). In reality last year he qualified 12th, some two seconds slower with a 1:32 lap, although he progressed from Q1 to Q2 with a blistering time of 1:29.851.
Trivial statistics, yes, but remember what Carlos Checa did when he dropped back to the World Superbikes with no where near the record of Bautista?
Bracksy joined the media scrum to get the low down on his two days of testing.
Alvaro Bautista Interview
Alvaro Bautista: “It was a positive day for us, we worked in the morning to make another step forward with the setup, like we did yesterday, but we didn’t find what we expected, so at the end we came back in the afternoon to try and see how the bike works after the same laps. In the afternoon we tried to do a long run and we did it, but I had to stop after three laps because it’s starting some sprinkling.
“Then I restarted again with the same tyres, the same spec, and I’m quite happy because the feeling with the bike was good, the pace was quite fast and at the end I felt the drop off of the tyre, especially in the last four laps. The tyres went down a lot. But you know, normally in the race you try to always manage the tyre consumption and also your energies. Today it was not necessary to manage, so I tried to push hard from the beginner and I didn’t have a big big problem until the last four laps, specially at the tyre, when too much drop.
“But in any case I’m happy because also, we get some data for the weekend, for the electronics to try to save a little bit more of the tyre, and to try to don’t feel last a big drop from the tyre. So we work with the electronics to help me to manage this situation.”
“The only question mark for me is, I mean to say something of the tyre, because the pace is I think good, but then when the tyre comes down/drop, but I think the problem is for everybody not just for me, no? Also you know at the beginning of the long run I was more than half race, I was doing 30s, faster than the lap record of the track, so I think when you are so fast, the tyre is more used and at the end you have more problem. But in normal race, maybe you can manage specially in the first half of the race, to push more at the end, or depends how you feel. So today nothing to manage, just tried to push the maximum as possible and I did, and I saw the results.”
“There was less strong wind than yesterday, but the track today was a bit cooler, and with this tyre if it’s too hot, the tyre is worse. Yesterday the track temperature was over 40 degrees, today it was in between 30-35 degrees, so the condition was better for the tyres. For that I think the other riders can improve. I didn’t try to improve my lap time from this morning, because our target is to do the long run.
“In the afternoon I did one exit before the long run, just to understand the front tyre, because in the morning, I had to use the soft compound in the front, but for me it’s not the best tyre for the race. In the afternoon I did one start, with the hard – to see that everything was good, and then the long run as we didn’t have enough from the hard tyre to try in the morning. So for this, I didn’t try to push in the afternoon to make a better lap time.”
Do you think 29s possible if you push?
Alvaro Bautista: “At the moment, no more riding and yesterday nobody can make a 29, but I think nothing is impossible, with tyres or with qualifying tyre, we’ll see.“
Is the feeling better here than at Jerez? With the heavy braking into turn four, with the tyre strength?
Alvaro Bautista: “In Jerez I don’t know if because it’s a new surface or what, but the feeling with the bike, was not really good. The most important was Imola was a new track for me. But also here we started to work here with the bike, just yesterday the bike was from Ducati and I ride the same bike. But with some data we decided to make some modifications, the geometry here, and for sure today we did nice step forward. Maybe with this tyre now I arrive at Jerez and can go faster. But when you don’t know the bike and you don’t the tyres, you have to adapt and start to work and understand, so for me, I think we don’t arrive today the maximum yet, so we are on the right way, but still much work to do.”
But it’s not impossible to win?
Alvaro Bautista: “We’ll see in the races, everything can happen no? At the moment I feel very comfortable and my target is try to give to the riders that in the past of the superbikes, to give them a bit more stress *laughs*.”
You’ve started already.
Alvaro Bautista: “Exactly that’s my target at the moment, win a race, we’ll see, that would be my first race in superbike and my first race for these bikes, so for sure we’ll try our maximum, at the moment, and the pace is quite good and the race is saturday or sunday, so not now.”
Mark Bracks: This might be a stupid question but the main different between this and the MotoGP bike.
Alvaro Bautista: “The power… you feel it especially in the track like this one, that are very fast, exit from the corner I remember with the MotoGP, just the bike push a lot. This bike seems like it seems like you are stop. So that’s the biggest difference.”
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