‘He knows very well what happened’ - Bautista| Gordon Ritchie | WorldSBK
Alvaro Bautista is still the clear championship leader after the seventh of twelve WorldSBK rounds, but the Aruba Ducati rider was enraged by what he saw as a deliberate attempt on behalf of Jonathan Rea to collide with him on the entry to T13 on lap two of race two at Magny-Cours.
“If it’s a mistake from riding, okay,” Bautista said. “Everybody makes mistakes and push out other riders, and okay, this is a race incident. But, I think today was clear that it was intentionally that he went to me. So, that’s the problem. If they said this kind of manoeuvres but without mistake, that is he did what he wanted to do. I think they cannot say this kind of thing.”
Bautista said he had not personally raised anything with the Race Commission. And although Rea went to him, he had no intention to go and speak to Rea - or hear his apology either way. “No, I don’t have interest,” Bautista admitted.
“He knows very well what happened. I know very well what happened. That’s all. Now, fortunately I am okay, so I will be ready for the next races.”
He expected Race Direction to do something more than give Rea a long lap penalty, especially when Bautista lost a possible 25 points. He had won race one on Saturday, after all… “Yeah, these kind of things, I think nobody has to go to Race Direction to say, ‘look at this. He pushed out a rider. You have to give him more penalty.’ The Race Direction has to do this. They have to go, ‘Oh, you put out this rider? Black flag. Intentionally.’ Because you arrive and do a mistake, you crash, okay. Things can happen. But, today it was not the case and they had to do it themselves. Not because I go to say, ‘You have to, have to, have to.’ They have to do this.”
When asked if something was going to happen like this for Bautista himself, and it has been going to happen for a long time - given the aggression level in the championship - Bautista had to give it a little thought before answering.
“For sure, there is more competitiveness in the races,” he confirmed. “It makes the difference smaller. So, everything is more in the limit. We saw many battles this season. Also for example, in the Superpole race I battled with Jonathan, it was an aggressive battle but at the end was clean. That means, some respect. But what happened in race two was not a battle. It was directly he went to me to hit me. It was not a battle. It was just ‘I hit you to take you out.’ This is totally different from the battles on track. This was not a battle. This is just go for you.”
When asked if the hard moments on Sunday ushered in a new and darker chapter of the championship battle, and that it would affect things from now on, Bautista answered, “No. Sincerely, what happens inside the track stays inside the track. I don’t have a problem with Jonathan. For sure, next time when I am with him on track, I will have to be more careful because I know his intentions. If he did (it) now, why not repeat in the future? So, just be more careful on the track. Outside, I think doesn’t change nothing.”
Race two aside, Bautista’s overall weekend - one win and one second place - seemed more than most expected at a circuit which had not favoured Ducati of late. But the final race soured his memory, naturally. “I am a bit more disappointed because it is not my fault. At Donington I crashed and it was my fault, but today… In any case, it’s what I said before. On paper, this track was difficult for us and I was quite competitive. The feeling with the bike was fantastic, like other tracks. So, that means that even in a more difficult track for us, we can be competitive. I hope that when the tracks that are a bit more in favour for us, we can be competitive as well and not worse! And the opposite. In any case, I’m happy with my team and with the work we did because even with not complete weekend because on Friday was wet, we were able to go fast. So, I’m happy and confident for the rest of the races.”
Experience says that only a fool would say the championship is going to be over before the final round - at Phillip Island in Australia this year. Bautista agrees, even if most think he is the strong favourite still.
“I hope to be there in the fight,” he said. “I’ll sign already now if we can arrive to Australia fighting for the championship. I sign right now the chance to fight for it.”