RICH ENERGY AMBASSADOR AND HONDA WORLDSBK RIDER ALVARO BAUTISTA LAUNCHES INTO ACTION AT ARAGON THIS WEEKEND FOR THE OPENING ROUND OF THE 2021 MOTUL FIM WORLD SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP
After sustaining a minor chest injury during pre-season motocross training, RICH Energy ambassador Alvaro Bautista has had an interrupted start to the 2021 Motul FIM World Superbike Championship pre-season test program. With a winter test schedule that visited Jerez, Barcelona, and Aragon the former MotoGP man is now fully-focused on being fighting fit for this weekend's opening round of the championship at Aragon.
After a weather-hit opening test at Jerez, the team returned to the home of the Spanish MotoGP round in the hunt for better weather and more laps aboard the revised Honda CBR1000RR-R. Honda hasn't been sleeping across the winter and a raft of new parts and upgrades greeted the riders as they searched for the package that will help take the fight to reigning champion Jonathan Rea. Using the Jerez test to hone Bautista's position on the bike, working on an updated electronics package as well as evaluating what new parts work and what don't, it was an intense but ultimately fruitful two days on track.
One week before the official Barcelona test where all teams and riders were present, Bautista injured his chest in a small but painful crash while riding motocross. Evaluating his condition on the first day, it proved an uncomfortable experience for the factory Honda pilot and ended his day short ahead of day 2, where only 6 laps were completed before the team moved on to Aragon for the next test session. Speaking after the Barcelona test, Bautista was upbeat about the upgrades made by the Honda team, enthusing that the bike is much more consistent with the electronics and the balance of the chassis has also improved a lot.
Opting to take two half days on track to manage his still-injured chest, the RICH Energy man worked through a test program that left the Honda in the best shape possible for the upcoming opening round at the same circuit. With a new swingarm, new seat unit, and the upgraded electronics the team is in the best possible shape to start the season stronger than at the same point last year under the watchful eye of new team manager, Leon Camier who said after the test, "Definitely made some progression this year with the bike. There’s a lot more to come as well and time on track for us is really crucial at this time. We had a lot of new parts come over the winter so a lot of our time on track has been spent understanding these parts, trying to put the package together to actually go faster. There were quite a few upgrades but a lot of it is trial and error sort of thing, just to understand that we are in the right direction."
Speaking after the final test at Aragon, Bautista said "We have tried to make the most of these two days of testing, two half-days to be precise, as we want to leave time to test at the new tracks that are on the calendar this year. All in all, I'm happy with the feedback I've had from the bike over these two days because even though it's been very hot, we've managed to do a good job, a lot of testing, and we've gathered a lot of information to be more competitive for the start of the championship here at Aragón. Luckily, compared to the Barcelona test, I’ve felt much better physically but on the other hand, I'm still not one hundred percent so after an intense first afternoon of work, today we completed the most important tasks and then we decided to finish up a bit early so as not to compromise my recovery process considering the back-to-back races that await us in a fortnight. As I said, I am happy with what we have done and with the feeling I have with the bike and the team, and I am looking forward to the start of the season with confidence and good feelings."