‘Happy to do it’ but Bautista plays down stunning lap record at Portimao

Despite being in ominous form ahead of his WorldSBK title defence, Alvaro Bautista has played down his stunning performance at the Portimao test which saw him break the official lap record.
Alvaro Bautista, Ducati WorldSBK Portimao 2023
Alvaro Bautista, Ducati WorldSBK Portimao 2023

Bautista was one of four riders to break the lap record, however, the WorldSBK champion was just as impressive when it came to race runs.

After already breaking the lap record on race tyres, the Aruba.it Ducati rider proceeded to lap within a couple of tenths off Fabio Quartararo’s quickest in-race MotoGP lap from last season.

A stint which lasted around 5-6 laps, Bautista was well clear of his competition before Jonathan Rea eventually closed to +0.009s. 

But despite his unrelenting pace, Bautista was keen to point out that testing has little bearing on how race weekends play out.

Bautista said: "In winter tests, you can see many good lap times but, in the end, the important thing is the feeling you have with the bike. 

"We worked quite well during these two days. Today, we found a bit of improvement with rear grip, especially at maximum angle and first exit from the corner. I’m happy with that. In the end, lap times in winter tests aren’t really true. 

"We have to wait until the first race to see everybody. Depending on when you go out on track here, you find better or worse conditions. I’m happy with the feeling and the work I did with my team so let’s keep going and I look forward to the next test and the first race. 

"If you see the times, it looks like it’ll be more interesting than last season so far. Let’s see. I always say, when the season starts you can see the reality of every rider."

Alvaro Bautista, Jerez WorldSBK Tests, 25-26 January
Alvaro Bautista, Jerez WorldSBK Tests, 25-26 January

While the level in WorldSBK already appears to be much higher than in previous seasons, the gaps between the leading contenders and the rest of the field remains substantial at this stage in pre-season testing. 

Still, Bautista is not taking anyone lightly whilst the Spaniard also confirmed that the base set-up of his new Panigale V4 R is ready for action: "For me the important thing is the feeling with the bike. Everybody is fast in this test and I went one second faster than last season. 

"I’m happy because I was able to do it and the feeling with the bike is good. We are prepared to start the season and I think the base set-up of the bike is quite good even though the bike is new. I think we worked really well." 

Crash at turn seven a small blip for the reigning WorldSBK champion

Although Bautista was the most consistent rider in terms of race performance, as was the case in Jerez despite Toprak Razgatlioglu finishing fastest on both days, Bautista had a small hiccup during the first session of day-two.

The former MotoGP rider crashed at turn seven whilst going for an even quicker lap than the 1:39.035s he set to top the test. 

"This morning I crashed in turn seven - it was a fast crash - maybe I found the limit in that corner and the lap time was quite fast," added Bautista. "I tried to push even more and I had a crash but without physical consequence. I prefer to do it now than in the races."

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