Bautista reveals "big surprise" at Donington performance, "happy" after "difficult" weekend

Monday, 18 July 2022 07:28 GMT

The Ducati rider saw his streak of podium finishes interrupted in the fifth round, but he left Donington still with the Championship lead

Fast and competitive throughout the Prosecco DOC UK Round, Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) finished the Donington Park weekend happy despite losing half of his lead in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship standings. Despite his Race 1 crash from second place, he claimed a fourth place and a second place in Sunday’s two races which allowed him to take a balanced view of the weekend.

Bautista had been battling with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) when he came off his Ducati Panigale V4 R at the final corner on the circuit, the left-hander hairpin of Turn 12 known as Goddards. With Rea going on to finish second and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) winning, Bautista lost 20 and 25 points respectively to the pair in Race 1.

On Sunday, he was able to limit the damage and ensure he left Great Britain with the Championship lead intact, albeit reduced to 17 points to Rea and 46 to Razgatlioglu; both able to halve their deficit across the UK Round. Bautista finished fourth in the Tissot Superpole Race but battled with Rea in Race 2 to claim second place to ensure he was not outscored by his nearest rival in all three races.

Discussing the weekend, Bautista said: “I’m happy because before we came here, we knew this track was difficult for us; for Ducati and for me. I didn’t expect the performance we saw here. It was a big surprise for me and my team. We were quite strong especially in the races. The Race 1 crash was a pity because maybe in that corner I had to leave more margin because it was so bumpy. On Sunday I learnt, I changed the line a little bit in that corner and, for sure, I felt better. I learnt from Saturday. I struggled a little bit with my right hand after Saturday’s crash, I felt a bit of pain and today it’s swollen a bit. I’m happy because it was a difficult weekend for us, but we were able to save it a little bit.”

Speaking to the media after Race 2, Bautista provided more information on his hand: “I did a check and it seems like nothing is broken, but it’s too big to see now. I have to check after two or three days when the swelling goes down. It felt like I had ants in my hand; I didn’t have a good sensation! In the Superpole Race, I arrived at the limit but halfway through Race 2, I didn’t have a good sensation with the hand. In the last three laps, I felt some pain. I took some anti-inflammatories and painkillers, so I maybe I forced the hand more than I can. I hope I have nothing wrong and recover.”

In 2019, Bautista took the Championship by storm when he first linked up with Ducati after winning the first 11 races of the season and scoring podiums in the first 15. A series of crashes throughout 2019 ended his Championship hopes but, three years on from that, Bautista reacted at the next possible moment by taking two top-five finishes on Sunday and performing a solid damage limitation exercise.

“Experience makes you better if you use it in the right way,” explained Bautista when discussing his response to the crash. “After yesterday’s crash, I was not worried. On Sunday, I was calm. In the Superpole Race I was quite calm. I learnt from the mistakes in the past. Fortunately, I have more experience with the bike, and I know really well why I crashed and where is the limit. My approach of the weekends is different from three years ago because I am more experienced.”

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