From ‘struggling’ on Saturday to victory on Sunday: how Bautista turned the tables for Race 2 win

Sunday, 24 April 2022 14:47 GMT

The Spanish rider claimed a commanding race win in Race 2 at the TT Circuit Assen to move 18 points clear in the Championship battle

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) surged into the lead of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with Race 2 victory at the TT Circuit Assen for the Motul Dutch Round, claiming the win by more than eight seconds ahead of his nearest rivals. With both Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) not scoring points in Race 2, Bautista moved 18 points clear of Rea in the Championship battle.

In the Tissot Superpole Race, Bautista crossed the line in second place but was demoted one place for exceeding track limits on the final lap, when he was judged to have gone on the green exiting Turn 18, the right-hander that forms the third part of the Geert Timmer chicane at the end of the lap. It meant he dropped behind Razgatlioglu in the classification of the race and also the starting grid for Race 2.

In Race 2, Bautista was able to battle at the front of the field yet again and went on to secure his sixth podium of the season and is now the only rider to have finished in the top three in all six races run so far in 2022. With Razgatlioglu and Rea not scoring, Bautista became the first rider in 2022 to rack up a century of points and extended his lead at the top of the Championship to 18 points over Rea, with Razgatlioglu 45 points back.

Reacting to the drama of Race 2, Bautista said: “I had the best seat to see all the action! I was so lucky because I saw Toprak and Jonathan crash, and I was scared because they both crashed in front of me. After that, Lecuona came and touched me in my side and then when I go into the next corner, I think Bassani came from very far behind and just touched my ribs. I was lucky again. In two corners, I was very lucky. After that, I needed a couple of laps to understand what was happening. It was incredible to understand!”

Bautista’s winning margin at the end of the race was 8.7s, although he did manage to open the gap to over ten seconds to Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) in second place to claim a commanding victory. The gap between Bautista and Locatelli at the end of the race, 8.7s, is the biggest winning margin seen so far in the 2022 season and bigger than both of Bautista’s winning margins from the 2019 Dutch Round.

Reflecting on his victory, Bautista said: “I was quite fast and quite consistent. I sometimes just tried to relax because I saw the gap was increasing a lot. I started to make some small mistakes but I preferred to just keep the rhythm and concentrate until the end. Consistency is the key for this season, especially because Toprak and Jonathan are very fast. I don’t think I can win a lot of races like I did three years ago. I think this weekend has been very important for me and for my team. In Aragon, we had a different setup on the bike than the winter tests. At that time, we thought it could be good performing. Here, I struggled a lot during Friday and Saturday and today my team changed a little bit the setup. This morning, I found a good bike for me, an easy bike, and more competitive. Now, fortunately, we found one step that allows me to go faster.”

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