Alvaro Bautista says a misguided setup on his Racing Ducati effectively denied him a clean day of Friday practice at Assen having failed to match the front-running pace of his World Superbike rivals.

The Spaniard has won the opening nine races of his maiden World Superbike campaign equipped with the new Ducati V4 R but in cold conditions at Assen he struggled to replicate his dominant pace from the previous rounds.

Bautista put it down to a change in settings with his Ducati, having been hit with a 250RPM drop following a technical balancing change from championship organisers, and reverted to his previous settings midway through FP2.

As a result, he feels he had just “the last ten minutes” of FP2 without issues which explains his lack of pace ending the day in sixth place and almost two-tenths off pace-setter Tom Skyes on the BMW.

“Today was a bit of an unusual day. The temperatures were very low and we used a slightly different setting from the last races to try and be quick right from the start,” Bautista said. “Maybe it was because the track was too cold, but I wasn’t able to improve the way I wanted during the first session.

“In the afternoon session, after a few laps, we decided to go back to the set-up used in the last races. The mechanics were very quick to carry out the modifications required and the feeling with the bike improved immediately.

“Basically in two practice sessions, we only lapped without any problems for the last ten minutes. These things happen sometimes, but luckily we were able to finish the day with a good feeling.

“The times are all close together, but I think we’ve found the right direction for the weekend.”

Bautista has the chance to make World Superbike history if he can win the opening Assen race which would see him beat Neil Hodgson’s record of nine consecutive wins at the start of a World Superbike season, with the British rider achieving the feat back in 2003.