Bautista positive after Saturday at Sepang: "I felt more competitive than Friday…"

Saturday, 11 November 2023 08:47 GMT

Despite issues at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the double WorldSBK Champion remained upbeat as he looks to make a step forward on Sunday

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) first MotoGP™ Tissot Sprint finished with the Spaniard in 22nd place after an early-race issue cost him time in the 10-lap race. After starting from the back row following an issue in Qualifying, the double MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title winner lost ground in the early stages, he was able to take advantage of rivals crashing ahead of him to finish between the two Repsol Honda Team riders.

SATURDAY’S STORY: Bautista responds to difficulties

Bautista started the Sprint from 22nd place after having to go through Q1 based on his Practice times. His best time in Q1 was a 1’59.418s with his best time coming in his first run, with the Ducati star not able to set a time in his second stint following a technical issue. In Free Practice 2 on Saturday morning, the double WorldSBK Champion was 17thbut fell back down the order in Q1 as he finished ahead of fellow World Superbike star Iker Lecuona, as the Valencian rider stands in for Alex Rins at LCR Honda Castrol. Everyone on the grid used a medium-medium combination in the Sprint.

As the race got underway, Bautista lost out to Lecuona on the run to Turn 1 and dropped down to 23rd and last place. Bautista lost a lot of time when he ran wide at Turn 15 in the early stages to Lecuona and dropped back by almost 17 seconds down on his compatriot. Two laps later, Bautista gained a place when Repsol Honda’s Joan Mir crashed at the final corner, promoting Bautista – running his traditional #19 again – back into 22nd place where he would take the chequered flag, beating the 2020 Champion and finishing directly behind eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez, who had his own spill at Turn 14.

HIS THOUGHTS: “we have to keep the positives and try to make another step”

Looking back on Saturday at Sepang, Bautista said: “Today hasn’t been our best day in the office. In the morning, I improved my feeling with the bike. In FP2, we were quite competitive and on the pace with the used tyre. In qualifying, we had a small issue with the fuel. I couldn’t do the last time attack. In the race, I had a problem at the start because the front fork didn’t lock. I had a bad start. Then, I felt it was a bit difficult to start the bike compared to the morning. I went really long into the last corner, and I lost the chance to go with the other riders. It’s a pity because the feeling I had this morning was good. I think I could be with the last group of riders in the Sprint. We have to keep the positives and try to make another step forward tomorrow.”

AIMING FOR MORE ON SUNDAY: “I enjoyed it… we are learning a lot very quickly”

Despite the issue in Qualifying potentially preventing him from improving his lap time and running wide at the Turn 15 in the early stages, Bautista revealed he was still able to enjoy the experience of his first Tissot Sprint during his MotoGP™ return. Although it’s not the first time he’s experienced a short race thanks to the Tissot Superpole Race in WorldSBK, he reviewed his Saturday and said he felt “more competitive” compared to Friday.

Bautista added: “I enjoyed it. In the morning, I felt really good on the bike. I felt more competitive than Friday. The problem we had in Qualifying was a pity because I think I could improve my lap time. In the end, we are learning a lot very quickly during the weekend. I hope to make another step forward tomorrow and keep enjoying it.”