Alvaro Bautista says he's slow, but it's all relative. Because the Ducati rider was actually 2nd in the second round of the free practice sessions at Misano a bit over a tenth from van der Mark and 3rd in the combined, with Rea in front for by 8 thousandths of a second. As usual, the Panigale V4 (at least the one that the Spanish rider rode) is in the group of best riders and maybe even a step ahead.
Bautista knows that races are won with hard work rather than fighting against the time trial, and that's exactly what he did today. The Misano asphalt had less grip than expected and Alvaro worked hard for the race.
"I wasn't very fast on the flying lap today, but I managed to be very constant, and this will be the key to the race with these conditions and, on track that's very demanding for your body and tires," he explained, "In circuits like this, you have to work more on the pace that on the flying lap."
With 13 riders in a second, the gap is minimal, and the Ducati rider knows why.
The track conditions today were complicated because the asphalt was very slippery. I don't know why, maybe because of the heat," he continued . "I struggled a lot with the tires in the morning, both front and rear. I wasn't precise when entering corners, and I was also struggling to get out.
Not much changed in the afternoon. I only tried several Pirelli tires. Getting a good time today wasn't easy. In fact, the references are slow and despite all being at the limit, many fell."
It seems like they'll have to fight against a poor grip, and not making mistakes will be essential tomorrow. Alvaro learned his lesson in Spain a couple of weeks ago.
"You have to understand the conditions of the track and adapt," he emphasized. " In Jerez, for example, in Race 2, I made a mistake because I always braked in the same spot, but I hadn't taken into account the wind that had risen. You have to reach the limit but not pass it."
A bit of an obvious maxim, but still a true one. However, it's still early to understand who will be able to race for the podium or the victory.
"A poor grip can be good or bad, but that holds true for everyone, so you have to adapt and try your best. When you go slow, everyone can keep a good rhythm. The differences are in the order of a couple of tenths of a second, but we'll see what happens." He doesn't want to make predictions. "In free practice, it's difficult to understand your own pace and that of the others. Everyone tests differently on settings and tires. In the end, we'll only be able to see the actual pace during the race. In Jerez, I thought there would be many riders close by on Saturday and, instead, I was able to break away," he recalled.
Audio recorded by Riccardo Guglielmetti