Alvaro Bautista has “no expectation - I couldn’t train like normal”

Alvaro Bautista arrives at the WSBK opener in less-than-ideal condition

Alvaro Bautista, Australian WorldSBK, 22 February
Alvaro Bautista, Australian WorldSBK, 22 February

Alvaro Bautista has downplayed his hopes in this weekend’s World Superbikes opening round.

The WSBK champion arrives at the Phillip Island round after battling nerve damage, suffered at the postseason test last year.

The one-day test earlier this week was Bautista’s sole opportunity to ride pain-free.

“After the last day of the test, I felt a bit better,” he said.

“My physical condition improved a lot from the test before. I am happy. It was the first time in preseason that I could feel the bike, to try to increase performance.

“I don’t feel in my [top shape]. But in my mind, there are no worries about pain anymore.

“I can focus on my feeling with the bike.

“For sure, it won’t be an easy weekend for us.

“It’s been a tough winter for me. I worked to recover as soon as possible.

“But it was very slow. I couldn’t train like a normal winter.

“We have to accept it.”

Bautista has won two WSBK titles in a row but insists that victory in the first race of this title defence is beyond him.

“For sure, I have no expectation this weekend,” he said.

“It is a long championship. It is only the first race, we don’t have to be crazy.

“Recover feeling with the bike, that’s it.

“No expectation, no result, no pressure. Just arrive to our best with “the maximum that we can.”

So, who will win?

Bautista has seen Jonathan Rea join Yamaha, Nicolo Bulega shine with Ducati, and Toprak Razgatlioglu link up with BMW to renew their challenges.

“Tests are tests, races are races,” Bautista said.

“It’s difficult. The grid of ‘24 is really competitive with a lot of really fast riders.

“I won’t bet my money because anything can happen…”

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