RICH ENERGY AMBASSADOR, ALVARO BAUTISTA, DIDN'T LET THREE CRASHES DETER HIM FROM A STRONG WEEKEND WITH THREE TOP 10 FINISHES AND OUT-PACING HIS TEAMMATE ACROSS THE THREE RACES
Estoril in Portugal was the scene for Round 2 of the 2021 WorldSBK Championship where RICH Energy ambassador, Alvaro Bautista, looked to improve on a difficult opening weekend over the border in Aragon. An electrical problem blighted the progress made from pre-season testing, however, going into the weekend it was hopeful that the team had cured the issue that cost Bautista and the team a great shot at a podium finish.
Recovering well from his pre-season training crash, it was fortunate for Bautista that he didn't sustain further injury after crashing three times on the opening day. His difficult start to the weekend didn't end there as the former 125cc World Champion and at least six other riders had their laps cancelled after they were caught out by yellow flags at Turn 1 as they attempted their final flying lap due to Tito Rabat running on into the gravel trap. 18th on the grid for Race 1 wasn't a reflection of the progress being made within the team. The opening race of the weekend was a marker for Bautista and how strong the Honda can be as a package as he made up ten places to finish a creditable 8th. His race pace was on par with the leaders and the power of the CBR1000RR-R was evident on the front straight, another positive for the team.
The sprint race on Sunday morning retained the same grid slot and another race of hard work but with fewer laps to do it in yet it was another master class of progress as Bautista progressed to a respectable 10th place. Race 2 of the weekend was the final opportunity to make the progress needed to take the fight to the top six where Bautista and the team know they can be. Out-pacing his teammate in each race so far, the RICH Energy man was keen to make it a hattrick of strong finishes. Shooting up to 11th by lap 2 and into the top ten soon after Bautista returned a weekend best of 7th place and some much-needed confidence in himself and his Honda.
After the weekend, Alvaro Bautista said “Another hard-fought race because I had to start eighteenth again, after just missing out on securing a better grid position with my tenth-place finish in the sprint race. In the end, the afternoon’s race was trickier than yesterday’s, as the temperature was different and the track was more slippery. I took many risks with the front and was very close to the limit. Our pace was not bad though and I think that was worth a top-five finish. But starting from the back and lapping with similar pace to the frontrunners, it was tough to close the gap. A pity really, because when they cancelled my qualifying lap, they basically eliminated any chance for me to fight for better positions. The positive is that we were able to rebuild confidence with the bike after a difficult start to the weekend and I can head into the next round with good feeling again. Now we must take another step forward”.