The weekend at Sepang didn’t turn out to be a dream story that it could have been, with a pressing injury limiting his chances of success
After all the expectations ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix and his wildcard, it wasn’t what the majority had imagined for reigning double WorldSBK Champion Alvaro Bautista. The Spaniard came through for P22 in the Tissot Sprint and in the main Grand Prix on Sunday, had a steady and consistent race to finish in P17. Starting from 22nd on the grid, he didn’t make progress but rode a solid pace to finish the race, taking profit of incidents ahead of him. He finished 2.5s behind fellow WorldSBK rider Iker Lecuona on the LCR Honda.
BAUTISTA’S FIRST WORDS: “I’m not making excuses”
Talking about why he struggled so much, Bautista confessed that his WorldSBK testing crash left a lingering injury: “It hasn’t been an easy weekend; I’m not using excuses but after the last WorldSBK race, we did a test and I crashed. I hurt my neck and collarbone. I felt pain but after two or three days, it disappeared. However, here from FP1, I felt like I didn’t have enough power in my left arm. I worked with the physiotherapist but it didn’t improve. It got worse and worse day by day and I was struggling a lot to make force with it.
“My crew chief, checking the data compared to other Ducati riders, said ‘why are you so fast like the others in the right-hand corners but you lose almost one second in the left corners?’ but the reality is that I couldn’t ride how I wanted. Again, it’s not an excuse; I’m very angry with myself because I couldn’t enjoy my riding at 100%. The good thing is that the Championship is done; I’ll go back to Spain and have a check on why I lost the power and try to get better in the winter.”
THE INJURY: “It seems the muscles are very compressed… it’ll be nice if I can come back again”
Explaining the injury in more details, a frustrated Bautista said of exactly what the issue is: “The pain is in the neck; it seems like the muscles are very compressed and they touch the nerves of my left arm, so maybe when I stress the arm, I lose the power. The neck is quite a critical zone so I’ll check well and try and recover as soon as possible. It’ll be nice if I can come back again at 100% but now the main thing is to recover well and then see in the future.”
IN CONCLUSION: “This was 90% of the problem… I couldn’t push or do my best”
Speaking in his debrief and going further, the #19 said: “This was 90% of the problem. The other 10% was the confidence and the setup; with this problem though, what you do with the bike is difficult to understand. I couldn’t push or do my best so it’s a bit frustrating that having this chance, I can’t use it.”
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