Bautista: Imola first track to expose Ducati weaknesses
Alvaro Bautista says Imola is the first track on the World Superbike calendar to have shown the weaknesses of the Ducati V4 R, after his winning streak came to an end.
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Ex-MotoGP rider Bautista had begun his rookie WSBK campaign with an incredible run of 11 victories, going unbeaten at Phillip Island, Buriram, Aragon and Assen.
But the factory Ducati rider suffered his first defeat of 2019 in Saturday's opening race at Imola, as reigning world champion Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki scored their first win of the campaign.
Rea passed pole-sitter Chaz Davies on the opening lap - before the Welshman pulled up with a mechanical problem - and from there Bautista was powerless to keep touch with the leader.
“Today our maximum was to have second position, because, apart from the track being new to me, our general problem [was] with the bike on this track I feel worse,” said Bautista.
“The stability of the bike, and also the turning, are worse at this track.
“I had the same problem from the beginning of the championship, we didn’t modify anything, but here in this track it’s too bumpy and you can see on TV the bike is moving everywhere.
“We tried to improve the problem from the beginning of the season that I always say, [that] the bike is not turning well and it moves a lot. On the other tracks we can manage the situation but here it’s more difficult.”
Bautista conceded that even before the race he knew his winning streak was likely to end.
“Before the race I knew [Rea’s] pace was really strong," he added. "From the beginning, I saw my laptime and it was quite fast, but I saw Jonathan go faster.
“I thought maybe if I can keep the rhythm, he could have a problem with the tyre, but he was very consistent. I just did my race, the best I can, but at the end the second position was the best [possible] today.”
Asked if other upcoming tracks could pose similar issues, Bautista replied: “I don’t think Jerez or Misano is like this one. At least they are tracks I know very well, I don’t think we’ll have a big problem like here."
While admitting he saw Davies as the bigger threat, Rea said his plan was to pass on the first lap and ensure he didn’t end up getting stuck behind either Ducati rider.
“I wasn’t sure I could do my rhythm with another bike in front,” said Rea. “The plan worked perfectly and step-by-step I was able to be half a second faster and keep pushing the pace.
“I was able to roll off on the last laps and really enjoy the moment.
“I’m very proud of the team. Even though we didn’t win a race until now this season, we never gave up. It’s a real nice victory because it’s for everybody that’s been working hard."
Additional reporting by Lorenza d'Adderio
Podium: Race winner Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images
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