Bautista ‘couldn’t see anything’ due to spray, ‘was riding on ice’

Alvaro Bautista says the spray when following Jonathan Rea in Race 1 of the 2023 WorldSBK season-opener left him unable to ‘see anything’.
Alvaro Bautista, Ducati WorldSBK Phillip Island 2023
Alvaro Bautista, Ducati WorldSBK Phillip Island 2023

The WorldSBK champion made an electric getaway from second on the grid as he led into turn one from Toprak Razgatlioglu.

However, A fast-charging Rea then took the lead on the same lap, nine corners later. 

After losing time in the early laps, Bautista found his rhythm and began to apply pressure on Rea, before taking the lead heading into ‘Stoner corner’ (turn 3).

But that came after several laps where Bautista claimed conditions when following another rider were treacherous. 

"I'm really blessed to win races like this one," added Bautista. "Last year we raced here as well, but we didn't race too much in wet conditions, so it was new for everybody. I just tried to understand how the track was to get the maximum. 

"In the Warm Up lap, I saw behind the riders I had a lot of water spray, and I couldn't see anything, so the idea was to make a good start and try to get the lead to not have these issues. 

"I did it and then Jonathan went a bit faster in the first lap so I just tried to stay calm and understand how much I could push and where was the limit. 

"After a few laps, my pace was similar to Jonathan’s but behind him I couldn't see anything due to the spray, so I just tried to overtake him and stay in front. After mid-race, the track started to be more slippery and it was very difficult, especially on the rear. 

"In many corners it seemed like I was riding on ice. There was zero grip. In the end, I could get some gap with Jonathan and win the race. I'm really happy."

Alvaro Bautista , Race 1, Australian WorldSBK, 25 February
Alvaro Bautista , Race 1, Australian WorldSBK, 25 February

Prior to Race 1 getting underway, Bautista had appeared to be the clear favourite in dry conditions.

But after rain fell that was not expected to be the case, or at least to the same degree.

And it proved to be true during the opening stages although Bautista still ran away victorious by over three seconds come the checkered flag.

Bautista said: "The good thing is that it started to rain for the race, so nobody had a reference, nobody knew the condition. At that moment there were no favourite riders. 

"I was not worried because in the end it’s the first race and I just tried to do the maximum. It was the same for everybody and it was not an advantage for anybody."

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