The Championship leader was able to get ahead after a lightning start and led all 20 laps on home soil to extend his Championship lead
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was able to extend his Championship lead after Race 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship paddock gathered for the 2022 Catalunya Round. The Spanish rider claimed a convincing victory as he won by more than eight seconds ahead of his rivals, extending his Championship lead to 44 points over Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) after the reigning Champion finished in fifth place.
The day started with Bautista finishing fifth in the Tissot Superpole session and he lined up from the second row of the grid for Race 1. However, he got a lightning start and was able to move into the lead of the race at Turn 1 and led every lap during the 20-lap race. He became the first rider to lead every lap starting from fifth or lower since Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) did it at Jerez from ninth in Race 2 in 2017.
Bautista’s pace was incredibly consistent throughout the race, lapping inside the 1’41s or 1’42s bracket until Lap 13 of 20 before dropping into the 1’43s. His only lap times slower than the 1’43s bracket came on Lap 19 and 20, with the latter including when he came off the throttle to celebrate his home victory across the line; with a winning margin of more than eight seconds over Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who finished second.
Discussing his Race 1 and managing it, Bautista said: “I’m really happy to get the victory in Race 1 here, especially after Race 2 in Magny-Cours that I couldn’t finish. To finish the race in first position was very special, to do it in front of my friends, family and fans was very nice. Today, the key was the tyre consumption. I didn’t have a good Superpole but in the end I could make a good start, so I got the lead from Turn 1. In that moment, it was difficult because I didn’t want to push too hard to not use and not stress the rear tyre. At the same time, I have to close the door to not let the other riders pass. It was a difficult situation. I had some touching with other riders behind me. In the end, I could manage, and I can get some advantage after a few laps. I started to ride more comfortably, more relaxed, and I can get my rhythm.”
Bautista will have the chance to go for more glory on home soil on Sunday with the Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2, which each come with their own strategy. The Championship leader explained how his approach to the 10-lap Superpole Race will be different compared to Race 1 as well as the changes he and his team will look to implement on the Ducati Panigale V4 R machine.
Bautista explained: “It’s totally different. Today, it was important to manage the tyre consumption. Tomorrow, in the Superpole Race, it doesn’t matter. You have to exit and go full gas until the last lap. For sure, there will be more battles. Now we have to work a little bit on the electronics and on the bike, because I think today, especially in the Superpole, I miss some improvements from the electronics. Because we worked on the race pace, we missed something for the Superpole and, tomorrow, we have to make a small change for the Superpole race to be faster and more competitive and use the tyre more.”
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