‘I felt strong, could adapt my style’ - Bautista takes control in Phillip Island

Just like the two day test earlier this week, reigning WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista proved to be too strong for the rest of the competition during Friday practice.
Alvaro Bautista, Ducati WorldSBK Phillip Island 2023
Alvaro Bautista, Ducati WorldSBK Phillip Island 2023

The Aruba.it Ducati rider was quickest by less than a tenth in FP1 as Andrea Locatelli provided the biggest challenge, but when it came to FP2, Bautista’s rivals were unable to stick with his pace. 

Another strong run of laps early on saw Bautista crack the 1m 31s barrier, before finding another four tenths to lower his time to a 1:30.623s.

Bautista’s teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi was second but over half a second down as no other rider managed to break underneath a time of 1m 31.1s.

"I’m happy with today because I had a good feeling with the bike," added Bautista. "Similar as in the test but today the track condition was a bit different, especially in the afternoon. 

"Was very slippery and you had to be very careful because tyres slide everywhere. You had to adapt to the track condition. In any case I understood the situation of the track and I could adapt my style. 

"For sure, I had fun even if the track was not in perfect condition. I’m happy because the bike worked well and my feeling was like in the test. Positive start to the season."

Bautista still not ready for ‘favourite in WorldSBK’ status

Following the test Bautista wasn’t ready to call himself the favourite, and although he dominated day one of the season-opener to an even higher degree, Bautista still feels more is yet to come from his rivals.

Alvaro Bautista Australian WorldSBK, 24 February
Alvaro Bautista Australian WorldSBK, 24 February

With that said, Bautista didn’t hide the fact he showed strong pace throughout.

Bautista said: "Well, in the afternoon we did a good pace but the condition we found today will be different tomorrow and Sunday. I think it’s not [time to] panic and we’ll see how the other riders will be in such different conditions. 

"Today I felt strong but I think many riders went quite fast. I don’t feel like a favourite. I just feel like I’m doing a good job with the bike. 

"We have to take the maximum in all conditions and when the track is difficult."

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