Alvaro Bautista. Him, again! The second day at Phillip Island exalted the qualities of the Ducati rider, the reference point at the end of the session. His Panigale V4 is flying across the Australian track, and the satisfaction with what he's accomplished is great. But don't talk to him about a victory on Tuesday.
"Anything can happen with motorcycles," said the Spaniard. "It's true that I was fast these two days, but Phillip Island will be my first race in the World Championship with a bike that has never raced before in the SBK. Before using the word "victory", let's say I'm here to stress the fastest riders a bit. I say this because there are many things that change in Superbike as compared to MotoGP, and you need to adapt."
You again managed to stress Rea and his companions a bit today, right?
"It was another positive day for all of us," he commented. "The changes concerning the geometry of the bike made me confident, and I'm really happy. In fact, we managed to achieve what we wanted. The sensations and pace are good, even if the last four laps in the race will be decisive for managing the tires. You try a lot to preserve both the tires and your energies during a race, while it's not the same during the tests."
So, are the tires the only question?
"The pace is good, but if the tires weaken in the end, it's a problem, not just for me but for everyone. In the race simulation, I rode faster than the track record. But management counts more in a race, especially in the first part. Personally, I'm confident, since I think I have what it takes."
Why weren't you able to go further ahead in the afternoon, like Sykes, Haslam or Rea?
"Because it was not my priority. Today, the track was much colder than yesterday, about five degrees less, so it was not the best. My goal was to shed light especially on the tires from a race aspect, and I think my thoughts are clear. I realized I was not completely competitive with a soft tire, while a hard one could be the best choice for me. We certainly need to use electronics to help us manage them."
Did you expect to be so strong after the tests in November?
"The bike is the same, but here, in Australia, I had different sensations. We immediately worked on the data, making certain changes that gave us the sensation I was looking for. At this point, I can say that we are on the right track."