Alvaro Bautista takes over the championship lead with ‘impressive comeback’

Alvaro Bautista claims the championship lead for the first time in 2024 after another impressive Sunday double podium in Assen.

Alvaro Bautista, Race1, Dutch WorldSBK, 20 April
Alvaro Bautista, Race1, Dutch WorldSBK, 20 April

After closing in on Remy Gardner, Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea, two-time WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista quickly used his stunning pace to dispatch the trio in just one lap.

A double overtake on Rea and Lowes heading into turn five was the pick of his overtakes, before rapidly catching Nicolo Bulega who held a three second advantage.

Bautista, who had to regroup following a couple of mistakes early on, demonstrated the type of pace no one could live as his dominant form of 2023 appeared to be back.

Speaking about the Superpole Race, Bautista said: “In the morning during the Superpole Race I had a really good feeling and I could push 100%.

“The conditions were more stable than the whole weekend. It was the first time we found the track in normal conditions.

“I enjoyed the first few laps where I battled a lot to make an impressive comeback. I was really happy with the feeling.”

In Race 2, Bautista spent the first third of the race leading as riders battled behind.

But unable to escape, Bautista fell into the clutches of Gardner and Toprak Razgatlioglu before losing positions to both riders, plus Locatelli.

Drops of rain then followed which expanded the lead group from five to seven riders, but Bautista never lost sight of the lead.

The problem for Bautista was neither did Razgatlioglu who had more performance late on and managed to pip the Spaniard to victory.

Discussing Race 2, rear tyre issues were the cause of Bautista being unable to challenge Razgatlioglu.

Bautista began by saying: “In the afternoon I made a good start and just tried to keep my pace. I was quite confident with the bike and making good lines, but then it started to rain a bit and basically it never stopped being light rain.

“In what part of the race it started to rain a bit harder and in some areas of the track we slowed down a bit and when I tried to push again the rear tyre cooled down too much and I could not get the temperature to keep pushing.

“At the end, I didn’t have the same feeling to push as at the beginning of the race. But I’m happy to finish on the podium.

“It has been a tough weekend with a lot of changes with the conditions.”

Despite that, Bautista did get close on the final lap although a mistake at turn one halted his momentum.

“I made a mistake at the first corner, I braked a bit too late and went wide, but again, I think the rear tyre was not as in the beginning,” added Bautista.

“I could not push and stop the bike like I wanted. Even if I didn’t make a mistake in turn one it would have been difficult to fight for the win.”

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