Bautista anxious to clear "critical" calendar phase for Ducati
World Superbike points leader Alvaro Bautista says he is hoping to get through one more "critical" track for Ducati at Magny-Cours without losing major ground to his rivals after stretching his advantage last weekend at Most.
Bautista heads into the summer break with a 31-point buffer over nearest rival Jonathan Rea at the head of the standings after scoring his seventh victory of the year in the first race at Most last weekend.
The Spaniard backed up that result with a solid run to third in the Superpole race and second in the finale after being passed by Toprak Razgatlioglu, who has now closed to within 38 points of the lead.
It came after Bautista saw his points advantage cut in the preceding Donington Park round owing to a crash, although the 37-year-old was at least relieved not to lose more points at what was regarded as a poor venue for the Ducati V4 R Panigale.
After coming away from Most - where he had never raced a Ducati before - with an enhanced points lead, Bautista said he feels he just needs to make it through the next round at Magny-Cours in September before the series returns to more Ducati-friendly venues like Portimao and Barcelona.
"I think the most important thing is to not make mistakes," Bautista said when asked how confident he felt about his title prospects.
"In the Superpole race, using the SCX tyre, I felt more grip but I felt the bike pushing at the front. There were a couple of times I nearly crashed and I didn’t take a risk to follow them [Razgatlioglu and Rea].
"It’s more important not lose a lot of points than to increase the advantage in every race. Donington, here and Magny-Cours, these three tracks are critical, especially here because I never rode the Ducati and we had to use the hard [SC0] rear tyre. At these tracks, it’s more important to not lose a lot.
"At Donington I lost points because I crashed, but without that we could still have increased the advantage. Here we took some advantage, but sincerely I don’t think about this. I prefer to think about every race [individually], focus on not making mistakes and bring home the maximum."
Bautista at one stage looked good to make it a clean sweep of full-distance race wins at Most, but lost ground when he overshot the Turn 1-2 complex on the sixth lap of 22, dropping to third.
He later regrouped by passing Razgatlioglu and Rea to take the lead on lap 13, but then found himself powerless to resist a late challenge from Razgatlioglu, who made the decisive move on lap 16.
Bautista admitted that he was having trouble with his braking for the first corner, which he feels was key to being unable to beat Razgatlioglu.
"I don’t know why but I was often missing the braking point for the first corner, sometimes too long, sometimes too short," said Bautista. "The reference was not very clear, maybe because of the wind or something.
"I lost a lot in the first braking, and yesterday that was one of my strong points. Today I was not as strong as yesterday.
"At the end, Toprak made good laptimes, I tried to follow him, but I was a bit late. I needed a couple of laps to change the references and push more. By the time I improved my pace, Toprak was a bit far."
Bautista added that he was still suffering from the hand injury he picked up with his Donington crash, but hopes to be 100 percent fit by the time the series resumes at Magny-Cours next month.
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