Alvaro Bautista is already in plain clothes when he returns to the garage and goes to his corner. The chair is waiting for him. Giulio Nava, his chief mechanic, doesn't say a word. Alvaro breaks the silence.
"What can I say, guys? Might as well laugh it off! The front just closed up on me. I wasn't doing anything special. I was behind Rea and Chaz, but I wasn't pushing. The front gave out on me without warning as soon as I entered. I don't get it... ."
He pauses. Nobody says a word. Then he continues.
"It seems as if being behind doesn't work for me. I have to take off and give it my all, 100 percent. From the beginning. When I'm aggressive, the bike reacts better. I do not know."
"We have to try to understand for tomorrow's race. It's best if we try to understand," said the guys on his team.
In the meantime, a circle formed in the corner. Stefano Cecconi, Aruba's boss, also sat down. The world championship seemed like it was in Ducati's hands, but at the fourth consecutive fall after those at Jerez, Misano, and Donington. And now his disadvantage from Rea rose to 49 points. Alvaro is down. He tries to smile, and continues to explain.
"Another fall. I don't exactly know what happened. I was there, behind Chaz, and I suddenly lost the front. Obviously, I'm disheartened because we were all doing well. Not only was I, but so was Chaz. We're really having a lot of bad luck that is making up for the beginning of the championship. However, we're still positive because we're fast and able to battle for the victory in all the races. These are how the races are, and we have to believe in them."
It suddenly seems as if the marriage between Bautista and the Panigale V4 has become a quarrel.
No. My feeling with the bike is the same, and I felt much better today than yesterday and also compared to Donington. We were working well, and I thought the pace was good to fight it our for the victory. There are positive and negative points with the bike, but the positive points are greater than the negative ones."
The world title that seemed to be in the hands of the Ducatista is, however, slipping away.
"Anything can still happen. In the beginning, I had a big advantage. Now it's the opposite. We have to stay focused. We have to improve the bike. I have to improve myself, and certainly not fall anymore. My goal is to give it my all. Yes, the world championship is almost over, but now we have to think of it, race by race, practice by practice, and try to continuously improve."
It seems like he's surrendering but, more than anything else, Alvaro realizes that winning the title is not just a question of speed.
"This experience ... becoming a world champion, it's just being the fastest on the track. You have to have experience. Concentration is a combination of things. Many riders are fast, but (ed. to win the title) you have to be more than fast."
Photo: Mimmo Maggiali