The Spanish rider has endured a difficult start to the 2021 campaign but showed strong pace on Friday at Assen
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign has been a challenge so far for Alvaro Bautista and Team HRC but there have been reasons for optimism at points, especially with Leon Haslam’s fourth place in the Tissot Superpole Race at Donington Park, and Bautista’s fourth place on Friday at the TT Circuit Assen ahead of the Prosecco DOC Dutch Round will give the team another boost.
Bautista put in a strong lap of a 1’34.741s to move into third place in Free Practice 2, and it was a good enough time to secure fourth place in the combined classification on a day where all five manufacturers were represented in the top five. The time showed a strong result for both Bautista and Honda, finishing 0.350s away from Rea’s pace-setting 1’34.491s at the iconic Dutch venue.
Bautista revealed after Friday’s action the improvements that had been made to his Honda CBR1000 RR-R throughout Friday, saying: “With the start it’s encouraging, even if the lap times of all the riders are very, very close. The feeling with the bike this morning was difficult because I felt it was not easy to make the bike turn. We made some changes to the setup of the bike in the afternoon and it was a bit easier to keep the line on the corner and especially in this track you have to be very precise in the line. I felt it was a good step forward.
“Also, we worked on the electronics side, especially with the connection on the gas because we need to improve in this area and in the morning, we tried some solutions, but it didn’t work as we expected. In the afternoon, we improve with the data from the morning so also, I think we made a small step forward there. In the end, when you put it all together, you can see a small improvement. But in any case, the feeling with the bike is not perfect. For sure, it is better to be closer to the front than the back even with the same feeling.”
After a strong start to the weekend at the TT Circuit Assen, both Bautista and Team HRC, along with teammate Haslam, will be hoping the pace and improvements continue as they look to really kickstart their 2021 campaign. Haslam’s fourth place last time out showed just some of the potential of the team, and Friday’s results will be another boost to the team.
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