With a second and then a fifth place in his Ducati locker at San Juan on Sunday, 2019 WorldSBK runner-up Alvaro Bautista attacked the races and his nemesis Jonathan Rea. Or at least tried to.
“In the morning in the short race for sure the pace of Jonathan was really fast and I tried to follow him, but it was very difficult,” Bautista told bikesportnews.com “I lost a lot of time in the mixed part of the track, and I could not recover. Maybe with the better grip we struggled a bit more. The others went faster than us.”
In race two it was even more profound, as Bautista clearly looked unhappy on his bike and was moving around a lot, the reason was evident to him after the race.
“I tried to follow Jonathan and was catching tenth by tenth, then he made a mistake and I could catch him. But it was almost mid-race and I could already feel something strange on the back - on the rear tyre.
“The grip was becoming less and less, and I was struggling to stop the bike entering the corners, and also on the gas. I feel the tyre dropped a lot and I could not go faster.
I tried to arrive to the finish line but it was really difficult – I struggled a lot in race two after the mid-race point. I do not know why but the tyre after the race was for sure destroyed.
“No more rubber, especially on the left side. Like a flat area. Normally it is the opposite and I do not have a lot of tyre problems. But this time, yes.”
Bautista rated the Sunday grip itself as good, and another factor. “Now, today, the grip was a bit better and one important thing is that the line is a bit bigger, wider, and we had more chance to go about out of the line and recover the line. They made a good step for today.”
Bautista, a first time Villicum rider, said of the problems, particularly on Friday and Saturday, “It is difficult to say because I was not here last year but many riders complain about the situation of the track. But I think the work they did in the track was too late.
“For me, they had to make this work many months before. I think the problem was the time. They made the re-asphalt very late and then you have to put rubber on you have to clean up. It was like we re-surface and just ride. No. I saw people cleaning with some air blowers on Thursday.
It is not enough, Maybe you see the dust go out but there is more dust in the ground. They need to clean up, really clean with some water, that have to maybe make races here with some rubber on the track. I hope of next season to have this condition from Friday because I think the track layout is quite nice and very technical.”
The FIM say that the track was indeed cleaned with water, but that it maybe even made it worse because of the hard water that was used, full of calcium.
Bautista is not allowed to say when and where he will ride his new Honda for 2020, but he did say, “For sure it will be in this year, but I cannot say anything. This year. But not before Qatar, for sure.”