Alvaro Bautista: “Without the red flag I could have fought for victory”

Alvaro Bautista believes a last-lap showdown between himself and Toprak Razgatlioglu could have been incoming at Assen.

Alvaro Bautista, Dutch WorldSBK, 19 April
Alvaro Bautista, Dutch WorldSBK, 19 April

Alvaro Bautista believes victory could have been his in Race 1 of the Assen WorldSBK round without a red flag.

An oil spill with seven laps remaining resulted in Race 1 being cut short, giving WorldSBK debutant Nicholas Spinelli a shock win after he chose to run intermediate tyres while most of the grid elected for slicks despite a very wet track at the start of the race. 

The final two sectors were dry throughout, but Spinelli gained enough time on the wet sections to create a big lead.

Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu closed in rapidly with eight laps to go, but the red flag soon came out.

Discussing the mental challenges of Race 1, Bautista said: “We had to switch our minds every lap. The first section was a bit too wet and the last two were completely dry so we had to switch every lap. In the first corner you had to take it easy and relax.

“Then, when you passed the back straight you just pushed at 120%. But the problem was that sometimes when you arrived at the first corner after pushing, it was like ‘ah s**t’ because it was wet. It has been a really challenging race.

“Also, in the beginning it was crazy because everybody that was in front was discovering the track so all the guys behind them could push them and pass each other. I enjoyed the race a lot.

“I think that without the red flag I could have fought for the victory until the end. But these things can happen.

“I’m happy with my performance even though we couldn’t work on the bike in practice because of the conditions. But it was the same for everybody.”

Bautista admitted Spinelli was lucky, but that sometimes in racing you need luck to be on your side for such surprising results.

Bautista began by saying: “Well, when I saw him get past on the inside at corner three and four, touching the knee on the ground and passing six or seven riders, I thought ‘okay, he has rain tyres’ because it is impossible to do with the slick.

“But at the same time I thought that maybe he didn’t understand these tyres and just pushed like on slicks.

“I thought that we could catch him after mid-race. It’s true that the first part was too wet and it took a long time to become dry. I expected it to dry quicker.

“Even in the last few laps there was just one dry line. So you could not make any mistakes. 

“He was lucky that the red flag came, but also it is important to have luck to win some races.”

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