Bautista explains tyre change in red-flagged Race 2, reveals strategy for passing teammate Rinaldi

Sunday, 5 March 2023 06:39 GMT

The reigning Champion had to fight from tenth in Race 2 and reveals whether a tyre switch in the red flag helped him to victory…

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship reached a thrilling conclusion during the Motul Indonesian Round at the Pertamina Mandalika International Circuit as Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) bounced back from a Tissot Superpole Race crash and tenth on the grid for Race 2 to take a commanding victory in Indonesia. The reigning Champion wrapped up his fifth win of the season in style after a battle with teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi in the closing stages of the race as the two factory Ducati riders fought it out.

Bautista’s crash in the Superpole Race not only cost him points in the Championship standings having been in the podium fight but also with his Race 2 starting positions. As he did not finish inside the top nine in the race, he had to start Race 2 from tenth on the grid and he would have to fight his way through the field in order to limit the damage in the Championship standings with his main rivals all ahead of him on the grid.

In Race 2, Bautista had fought his way up to fourth on the SCX tyre when the red flags were shown for a crash involving Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven). With the race restarting, the grid positions were taken from the last timing point each rider completed in the original race so Bautista lined up in fourth place. Crucially, he had changed his tyres from the SCX to the SC0 for the 14-lap restarted race.

From here, Bautista was able to fight his way firstly into the podium positions and then into the fight for victory after closing down his teammate twice. After reducing the gap to less than a second, Bautista made a mistake and ran wide at Turn 1 before once again closing the gap. Bautista made his move for the lead on Lap 13 of 14 at Turn 10 on Rinaldi to claim first place before pulling a gap over his teammate.

Discussing his race, Bautista said: “In Race 2, starting from tenth position was not easy especially because, on this track, it’s not easy to pass. In a normal situation, there aren’t a lot of points to overtake other riders but with this condition with only a small line of good grip, it’s almost impossible. I tried to keep focused at the beginning. When they showed the red flag, I started from fourth place, maybe the lines got a bit easier.

“I had to start with the harder rear tyre because we didn’t have more softs. I had to choose between a hard with two laps on it or a soft with eight laps on. We put the hard tyre on and tried to adapt. I tried to stay calm at the beginning. When I saw Rinaldi go away, I thought he had a really good pace. It was a good reference for me to get some advantage on Toprak. I was catching him but at Turn 1 I made a mistake and went a bit wide. I lost more than one second, so I lost a lot of distance to Rinaldi. I didn’t think I could catch him but in the last laps I saw drop him a lot. I tried to keep my pace. When I caught him, my pace was much faster, but I didn’t want to risk an overtake. I waited a couple of laps just to be sure that, when I pass him, I did it in a safe place without risk for him or for me. I’m so happy because, from a really difficult start today, we came back and we showed that we are strong this year. I’m happier with this victory than the other ones.”

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