WorldSBK Donington: Bautista ‘keeping calm, no more mistakes’| Gordon Ritchie | WorldSBK
Alvaro Bautista’s Donington Park WorldSBK weekend didn’t get off to the best of starts after a crash, from second, on his Aruba.it Ducati.
Jonathan Rea’s eventual second place in Saturday’s race took him to within 16 points of the championship lead after Bautista crashed out on his factory Panigale. Too much trail brake into Goddards, trying to take too tight a line… it has been the sight of hundreds of similar falls over the years.
It was a surprise to the Spaniard, however, who escaped with a small wrist contusion, as he had not particularly looked like falling before then, however desperate the fights between him and Rea had been.
“That corner is always a bit tricky,” said Bautista afterwards. “You never do the same line because it’s difficult. It depends how the bike moves or how you keep the bumps. It was a big pity because in that time, I braked hard, like other times, but maybe I tried to…not force… but tried to enter.
“In that moment, I took the bump and I lost the front. In racing, it can happen.
“I’m happy because our performance was quite good,” he continued. “I felt quite strong on the bike. Toprak was very fast at the beginning. Then after a few laps, Jonathan start to pass me, but just to stop me. More than because he had more pace than me… he was just to stop my pace. I tried to defend then I thought, ‘okay, if you want to be in front of me, just stay and try to catch Toprak maybe’. I thought, ‘maybe he has a couple of tenths more than me and we can catch together Toprak’, but no. In fact, we were slower. So, I just stay some laps behind him. Then because I saw him a bit on the limit, I tried to stay in the front and tried to get a tenth or a couple of tenths that I thought that I can go faster. He did just have to defend, and we start with some overtakes. It was so fun because I had to be very careful in all the corners because I know that he always tries just to go inside. So, it was fun because I had to be like, ‘he’s going inside or not?’ Then in that corner, I brake maybe too hard and the bumps didn’t help me to go in. But I’m happy because the performance in this track, a difficult track, we were competitive. Also, the feeling with the bike from yesterday to today improved. So, this is racing. We have to keep calm and just try to do the same work as we are doing now. In the crash there was no warning. But, in that corner, it’s always warning. Tomorrow I will be more careful in that corner.”
Bautista, like everyone, was surprised by Toprak’s front running prowess and clear race win. “I didn’t expect Toprak’s pace,” he admitted. “At least looking at the pace in the practice, I didn’t expect him to go as fast as he did. But also I’m surprised because Jonathan, I hoped to be stronger than he went in the race. So, strange. Also track conditions change a little bit with more heat. Maybe it’s better for Yamaha and worse for Kawasaki? I don’t know. I’m surprised for both sides.”
After Bautista’s first crash of the year, immediate memories went back to 2019, when he won and won and won… and then lost the title. Everybody in Ducati has professed to have learned so many lessons since then, so that fall has put Bautista on a different tack for the two races on Sunday.
“Now I think it’s time just to keep calm, to don’t think too much,” affirmed Alvaro. “What is past is past. I cannot say nothing. Just try to keep the mentality until now that is to bring home as maximum as I can, but don’t make mistake. So, I think we did a ‘mistake bonus’ we have during the season, we used today. No more mistakes.”
Bautista also understands that his bike is improved on the 2019 model, if not radically so. But it is more consistent and much better at Donington.
“The performance was there,” Bautista confirmed. “Three years ago our performance was not. I think the bike, what I said at the beginning of the season – maybe the performance is not super better than three years ago, but the bike is more balanced. I think now in the tracks that we suffered in the past, three years ago now seems the level is more close to the tracks that we were fast. So, this is the good thing that I feel good with the bike. We don’t go much faster in the tracks that we were fast, but in the tracks that we suffered more, we are more close to our maximum performance. This is the difference.”