Never say never: the comeback kings from Race 1 at Estoril

Saturday, 29 May 2021 16:32 GMT

For different reasons, Alvaro Bautista, Chaz Davies and Michael van der Mark started not where they would have expected in Race 1 at Estoril

While there was a battle for the win of Race 1 at the Gaerne Estoril Round, three riders were battling their way through the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field at the Circuito Estoril after, for various reasons, started the first race of the weekend in a position where they would not have expected to be.

Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) started from 15th place after putting in a best lap time of 1’37.422s with Davies just starting a run on Pirelli’s qualifying tyre when yellow flags were waved at Turn 1 after Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team) left the circuit. Although he did slow down for yellow flags, an amended rule by the FIM for 2021 means any laps set when yellow flags are deployed will be cancelled. It meant Davies did not get a full run on the qualifying tyre.

Discussing his race, Davies said: “It was eventful! I didn’t get a very good start and, obviously, when you’re 15th you really need one of those. That didn’t happen. It’s quite a tough track to overtake, it’s quite skinny and you’re always weary that with any move, you have to get off line and force the issue on the inside. It’s quite bumpy, you find when you try and send it up on a different part of the track where you’ve never been all weekend you get caught out by bumps. That was happening quite a bit so I was nearly a bit disappointed with myself for not taking the opportunity when they came to make some passing opportunities but it’s so difficult, I just didn’t know whether I was going to make a bigger mistake and let riders back through. I tried to take my time and come through rider by rider and obviously got to the front of the group I was in.”

Bautista was another rider who started at the back, after starting from 18th. He had posted a time good enough for the fourth row of the grid but has a time deleted for the same reason as Davies, meaning he started in 18th place. Reacting to his race Bautista said: “I start from the back. In Superpole, they cancelled my lap because there was a yellow flag at Turn 1. Starting from the back is always difficult especially in the first lap with my lack of confidence after my three crashes from yesterday. I struggled a little bit to overtake other riders but then I start to get some confidence. My target is to try to do just get the feeling and try to push and arrive at the limit step by step. In the end, my pace was not too bad. I think, maybe starting in a normal position, I can fight for sixth or fifth but in any case, we have a lot of work to do with the box.”

Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) started from 12th on the grid and made his way into the top seven, starting from outside the top ten after posting a best Superpole time of 1’37.193s. Discussing his day where he fought from 12th on the grid to seventh, van der Mark said: “We lost some valuable track time again this morning, so that was not how we wanted to start the day. But anyway, in Superpole I felt good; I improved my lap time and then in qualifying I had really good first three sectors, but then the tyre was gone so I could not gain any time in the last sector. That was a pity because that meant starting initially from P14, which was then P12. I had a really good start and the race was my first long run this weekend. I was surprised by the pace I had and with the consistency of the bike. I am happy with this position, but I am happier with the consistency we had and also when I changed some electronics during the race. We took a really good step forward. I am happy with P7 but even more about the whole pace.”

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