Razgatlioglu ‘struggling’ - Bautista not convinced, ‘I don’t think he pushed’

Alvaro Bautista has played down suggestions that he’s the clear favourite heading into this weekend’s WorldSBK season-opener at Phillip Island.
Alvaro Bautista Ducati, Toprak Razgatlioglu Yamaha, WorldSBK Phillip Island 2023
Alvaro Bautista Ducati, Toprak Razgatlioglu Yamaha, WorldSBK Phillip…

The Ducati rider topped his second consecutive test of the pre-season earlier this week, and like in Portimao, the WorldSBK champion was dominant on his way to doing so. 

Bautista has been just as strong in pre-season testing as he was throughout the 2022 campaign, which is a scary sight for the rest of the competition given the points advantage he ended the year with.

A new lap record was set in Portimao before dominating the final day of testing in Phillip Island.

However, Bautista does not see himself as the favourite and believes Toprak Razgatlioglu, who struggled on day two at Phillip island, will be right there come the first race.

"I’m not a step ahead of everyone," Bautista told GPOne.com. "The race weekend is always different and, these days, many riders have focused on testing material. 

"As always, you have to be very cautious about what you see in the tests. The idea is to try to have the same sensations on the bike, and then we’ll see. I’m focused on myself and not on the others. 

"I think everyone will be fast, especially Toprak. He seems to be struggling, but I don’t think he pushed 100%. 

Toprak Razgatlioglu Australian WorldSBK. 21 February
Toprak Razgatlioglu Australian WorldSBK. 21 February

"I saw him on the track and he was able to follow me without any problem. Rea worked on the bike. He’ll be there too."

Bautista’s stunning pre-season has also come off the back of Ducati bringing a brand new Panigale V4 R to the table for 2023.

But while the new machine appears to be a slight improvement over the already championship winning 2022-spec, Bautista still feels as though cornering can be bettered.

The Spaniard added: "You always want to improve. The bike is very good but we have to progress when cornering without gas. It’s a characteristic of the Ducati. 

"We’ve been familiar with it since last year. Then we need to work on stability because on fast tracks like this one, the bike moves a lot, maybe also because of my weight. 

"If we can solve this problem, I’ll be happy, but I’m not at all disappointed with the evolution of the Panigale."

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