At a circuit he has traditionally not gone well at, Bautista claimed a stunning victory at Magny-Cours to almost double his lead in the standings
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was able to convert a fifth place start in Race 1 at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours into victory after a dramatic and unpredictable fight during the Pirelli French Round. Bautista was able to benefit from both his title rivals crashing in the early stages to pull out 25 points over Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and 20 over reigning Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK).
Although he had a winning margin of over seconds at the end of the 21-lap race, it wasn’t as straight forward as picking up the pieces left by his rivals. Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) inherited the lead of the race when Razgatlioglu went down on Lap 3 at Turn 13 after a huge moment, with Bautista having to catch and pass the British rider to claim his first victory in Magny-Cours and move 56 points clear in the title fight.
Bautista’s move into the lead came on Lap 7 of the race into the Nurburgring chicane and he was able to hold at the front of the field despite pressure from Redding, who did not let the Ducati rider get away from before Bautista opened up the gap in the final third of the race. The end of Lap 14 was the first time the gap exceeded one second between the pair before Bautista rapidly extended that to four seconds at the end of the race.
Discussing his race and the battles he had, Bautista said: “I saw Jonathan crash, and then Toprak made some mistakes and then went into the gravel, so I decided to stay calm and not make mistakes, just to finish the race and get a good feeling with the bike. Lap by lap, I started to feel better and better and decided to try and get the lead, get my pace and push to my feedback. I did a couple of good lap times to get some advantage with Scott, and then in the last laps I just had to manage the distance. It was an important victory especially here at a track that is never good for us.”
The Spanish rider, who moved level with Carlos Checa in terms of race wins with victory, opened up a 56-point gap in the Championship standings with the results of Race 1. Rea re-joined the race after a visit to the pits, putting him a lap down, with the six-time Champion finishing last while Razgatlioglu also re-joined but was able to fight back to take 11th place and the five points that come with it. Bautista is now 56 points clear of Rea in the standings and 58 clear of Razgatlioglu, having been 31 and 38 clear of Rea and Razgatlioglu respectively heading into the French Round.
Discussing the title fight, Bautista said: “Sincerely, I don’t look at the gap in the Championship. If you are focussed on that, you are not focussed on the track. I try to be focussed on the track, try to enjoy with my bike and try to get the maximum from my Ducati. At the end, when the Championship is finished, we will see where we are and what is the difference.”
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