Bautista weighs in on Razgatlioglu-Rea clash; 'it had to happen, I was so lucky'

Alvaro Bautista says Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea’s Assen WorldSBK crash was inevitable after running the risk several times in 2021; ‘They’ve touched in the past, it had to happen’.
Alvaro Bautista, Assen WorldSBK race2, 24 April
Alvaro Bautista, Assen WorldSBK race2, 24 April

Race two in Assen was as drama-filled a race as we’ve seen in recent WorldSBK seasons, and although he was very nearly caught up in the Razgatlioglu-Rea clash, Bautista ended up being the big winner. 

With Bautista, Razgatlioglu and Rea head and shoulders above the rest of the field thus far - have finished in the top three of every race they’ve completed - a three-way title fight looks set to rage on all season long.

However, crashes and incidents like the one we saw in Assen could prove pivotal come the end of the season. 

Unlike 2021 Razgatlioglu and Rea are not in a battle of their own and can’t afford to take the same risks, as Bautista has now regained the title lead by 18 points thanks to his dominant win.

Although Bautista came out victorious, the Ducati rider wasn’t without his own contact during Razgatlioglu and Rea’s coming-together. 

After having avoided the pair in spectacular fashion, Bautista was then hit by Iker Lecuona when returning to the circuit.

Speaking about the incident, Bautista said: “For me, it seems like Toprak went a bit out. He went to the kerb but not off track, just on the kerb. 

“Jonathan was inside but behind and then was fast, looking for the normal line. Toprak was on that line, so they stayed together in the same place at the same moment and there wasn’t space for two riders. They touched. 

Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu, Assen WorldSBK race2, 24 April
Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu, Assen WorldSBK race2, 24 April

“They’ve touched in the past, but this time it happened what didn’t happen in the past! One time, it had to happen; we see many fights with them in the past. 

“I was behind and I was so lucky. I was braking. I had no space because I had Jonathan’s bike, Toprak’s bike and I was here. 

“When I came back, Lecuona on my right and bam, he hit me on the side. Then I go into Turn 3, and I felt a big impact on my ribs. I was so lucky.”

‘Relaxed’ and in position to win Ducati’s first WorldSBK title in 11 years?

Although pre-season testing was strong for Bautista, the true litmus test for the former MotoGP rider would be in race situations, proving he still had what it takes to win races, and more importantly for Ducati, a title. 

Those questions have without doubt been answered, however, Bautista is aware that consistency is needed if he’s to sustain this level of performance, something that derailed his 2019 campaign. 

“I was quite fast and quite consistent. I sometimes just tried to relax because I saw the gap was increasing a lot,” added Bautista after race two.  “I started to make some small mistakes but I preferred to just keep the rhythm and concentrate until the end. 

Alvaro Bautista and Iker Lecuona, Assen WorldSBK race2, 24 April
Alvaro Bautista and Iker Lecuona, Assen WorldSBK race2, 24 April

“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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