Bautista still clear of title rivals amid Imola defeat

Bautista still clear of title rivals amid Imola defeat

Alvaro Bautista, who is now leading the WorldSBK Championship, was able to laugh off the fact that he made his first error on race day after a nearly faultless 2023 season as his streak of feature race victories came to an abrupt halt.

The fact that Bautista still has a solid weekend with a victory and a second place finish in spite of his defeat by Toprak Razgatlioglu in the Superpole Race and his crash in Race 2 is a reflection of his dominance in 2023.

This was shockingly Bautista’s second DNF of the year, since his first occurred during the Superpole Race at Mandalika when he crashed after hitting dust offline while battling with Jonathan Rea.

Bautista reasoned that he had clipped the inside white line as he went around the complex’s right-hand turn. The Ducati rider says it’s unclear why he fell right there and then, but interprets it as a lesson for him to think carefully about how he approaches the start of races going forward.

“We decided to make the race shorter, so I made it even shorter!” Bautista joked about his Imola lap 1 crash.

“Joking aside, I made a mistake. I had a good start and did a good line, but I touched the inside white line and maybe some laps were fine [when I did that], but maybe on the first lap the tyre wasn’t 100%.

“Next time I have to be more careful.”

Bautista was put to more of a test in Imola than at any other track this season, despite the fact that he has dominated this year to the point that, with five rounds and 15 races remaining, he is on the verge of breaking the record for most victories in a season.

After a fierce duel with Toprak Razgatlioglu, Bautista eventually pulled away for the win in race one. However, the Turk outperformed Bautista in the Superpole Race forcing Bautista to settle for second place.

The Ducati rider was overtaken by a rival for the first time this season when Razgatlioglu reeled him in with two laps to go and executed a pass on him.

“[The crash is] a shame, we were competitive,” Bautista added. “We had a nice battle with Toprak and I felt that this weekend at the end we were stronger than we expected, so I have to be positive and try to learn about the mistakes.”

Despite losing 28 points from his lead in the overall standings, Bautista still has 70 points on Razgatlioglu and is still well within the title race’s reach. His 18th victory of the season came in Race 1, and with one more trip to the top of the podium, he will break the WorldSBK wins record held by Doug Polen and Jonathan Rea.

However, his crash in Race 2 ends his streak of 14 victories in a row in the full-length, 25-point races.

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