RICH ENERGY AMBASSADOR, ALVARO BAUTISTA, WAS IN ACTION AS THE WORLDSBK CHAMPIONSHIP VISITED MOST, CZECH REPUBLIC, FOR THE FIRST TIME
Round six of the Motul WorldSBK Championship took place at Most, Czech Republic, over the weekend and RICH Energy ambassador, Alvaro Bautista was keen to build on the potential of the Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R shown last time out at Assen. The Spaniard was keen to get out on track in the Czech Republic as Most was the only circuit of the year that the teams and riders hadn’t raced or tested at previously but with a weekend of mixed weather predicted, time was of the essence.
FP1 was a learning experience for all riders; braking markers, turn in points and general lines around the circuit were the order of first practice before the rains came and effectively washed out FP2. For FP3 on Saturday morning the weather had improved, and the former MotoGP rider returned to the circuit to continue his education. A twelfth-fastest time belied the potential of the Honda once again before the all-important qualifying session took the Spaniard to eleventh fastest time, a rear brake issue restricting the pace of Bautista through the fifteen-minute session.
As tough as the free practice and qualifying sessions have been for Bautista this season, the races have often brough about a change of fortune and this weekend it was important to finish all three races to collect valuable data for the bike and the team. Race one on Saturday afternoon was the first opportunity to show race pace and a blistering start saw the experienced campaigner rocket to 7th before a small mistake dropped him back to 11th but regrouped to claw back the deficit and finish a solid 7th place.
Sunday provided the usual two races for the Superbike grid, the shorter Superpole sprint race and the regular-length race two. A ninth-place finish for Bautista gave an improved grip position for the final race of the weekend, a third-row start. The tight first corner caught out Axel Bassani and a host of riders, Bautista having to take avoiding action and subsequently losing touch with the front runners. As our ambassador chipped away the laps the gap to the top ten was shrinking btu not quickly enough to match the results of Saturday and a 10th place finish was the best result under the circumstances, once again finishing ahead of team-mate, Haslam.
After the weekend Alvaro said, “Today was a difficult day for us in the sense that this morning, in the warm-up, we tried a slightly different set-up but in the end it didn't give us the feeling we were hoping for and so we went back to what we had in Race 1. I made a decent start and finished ninth, earning a spot on the third row for Race 2. This afternoon unfortunately I had a bit of bad luck through the first turn because I got caught up in a race incident involving other riders and although I managed not to fall, I slipped a long way down the field. I recovered a little ground after that and was able to lap more or less with the times of the first five or six riders, but not faster than them so I could not close the gap. This is our limit, if we start well, we can stay with them but if we are behind, we never catch up. Having said that, I want to thank both the team and HRC because I know they are working hard and doing their best, but we have to take a big step forward if we want to fight for the positions we are aiming for.”