Thai WorldSBK: Bautista unfazed by possible success penalties

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

After an opening weekend triple from Alvaro Bautista and Aruba Ducati in Australia, another three gas burners got lit under the ambitions of his rivals as he scored three straight victories again in Thailand.

The Spanish rider, 34 years of age but still a WorldSBK rookie in 2019, was imperious in Superpole with a new record and added to his Saturday full race win (and regular lap record) with one sprint (albeit shortened to six laps) and one more full pointer on a sweltering Sunday afternoon.

Bautistawas stoked by his own success in Thailand, especially after knowing that the opening round in Australia was known to be a good track for him, and he had also tested an all-new bike there alongside his peers for two days before the race weekend.

“It is incredible and for sure this was an important weekend for us,” he said dripping sweat after his latest exertions in 36°C heat. “With this bike every track we go to us new for us, so we have to make a new reference for the bike, and for me with this bike.

In Australia we were lucky because we found a good set-up at the beginning and here the bike worked well from the first free practice. And we made some adjustments.

Bautista was aware just how dominant his weekend in Chang had been, especially as he knew who had been so dominant there before he got there.

“It has been an unbelievable weekend for me because we dominated all the practices and all the races, in a track that of the last eight races, seven were won by Kawasaki,” he stated. “It is like we came to Kawasaki’s territory.

“This has been so positive for us to make our bike competitive in this kind of track. For sure we have to improve in some areas of the bike, but I am quite happy because we saw the bike worked well in Australia and this is a completely different type of track. So the base bike is quite good. I have good confidence.”

Despite all his glory in Thailand Bautista said after race one on Saturday that he struggled in some areas, under braking for one, so he and his team made some changes today. And then went back a bit.

“In the morning we tried different things in the bike, big things, because we have to also discover the bike,” said Bautista. “To try something different, to see if we can find something more. In the end it was not easy because we had only 15 minutes and I also had a brake problems in the morning.

“The problem I had yesterday was the front brake and it seems like in this kind of track the brakes were struggling a lot and the performance was not 100 per cent. For that reason I felt it was difficult to stop the bike in the corners.

“Today, fortunately the feeling came back again and maybe the track conditions were a bit more slippery today, so the lap times were not too fast. I think without the brake problem I could have gone faster, but today I think I was at the maximum we can make for the track. In all conditions we can be competitive and get to our maximum.”

With another weekend of domination looming at his home track of Motorland Aragon in round three, Bautista is aware that Dorna/FIM may take 250 revs – or more - off him soon, under the sporting regulations that try and maintain competitiveness for all.

He is not sure what effect something like this may have on the Ducati V4R, which revs so much higher than anything else.

“Sincerely I do not know, I have to try it,” he said. “Do I have to slow down in the races to not have that gap? I just ride the bike to enjoy it. I feel that if I do not make my maximum, I am not enjoying it. So, I am not worried about that.

If we have some penalisation I will do the same with or without the penalisation. I will make my best.

“If my best is winning by five seconds, that is my best. If my best is winning by one tenth, or finish fifth, it is my best. Right now what you see is what I can do.”

That Spanish race may be a special one for Bautista, as he is on such a roll approaching home turf, and also for the Spanish fans, who are usually Superbike-phobic.

“I want to enjoy with the Spanish fans this championship because it will be my first race in Europe, my first race in Spain, and in the past not many fans came to the Spanish races,” admitted Bautista.

“But now I have the feeling that more and more people will come. I hope to have a lot of them there in Aragon to support the championship.

“It is a nice championship and I think they will enjoy in the paddock and everything because it is totally different from MotoGP.

“For sure they will enjoy this championship more than the other one. The target for me is basically the same. My target is to reach the same feedback I have with the bike in the first two rounds and then we will see what happens.”