Alvaro Bautista had imagined an entire day’s workload for this test at Portimao. He probably wanted to go up against the stopwatch, he wanted to demonstrate that he could fight on equal terms with his rivals while continuing to develop a completely new project like the CBR1000 RR-R.
The reality was however very different and today, at the end of the first day of testing in Portugal, Bautista was more than 2.5 seconds off the pace of the rider who replaced him on the Ducati Panigale, namely Scott Redding.
Obviously, it was not that much of a shock, because at the moment it is clear to everyone that in Honda the first aim in the tests is to gather information to better carry out the development of the renewed Fireblade. But a racer, however responsible and aware of the situation he might be, always wants to get out on track to set fast times and today Bautista had to give up these belligerent intentions, which he will probably have to postpone for a few weeks.
"In the end today, we did more work inside the garage than outside. It's normal for us now, but I would certainly like to have everything ready and think only of pushing hard and looking for the right sensations with the bike. But unfortunately, with the weather we had in Jerez, we were forced to do the job we should have done there. That’s the situation."
Alvaro was not making any excuses, because he is aware that at this moment the important thing is to give the right direction to the development of the bike.
"This track is very different from Jerez and luckily the weather was also very different from what we found there a few days ago. At the moment we are testing many components, which as you have seen we already had in Jerez. Except that it was not possible to test them there and so we started to try them here. Basically, it was important to collect a lot of data on these details also to establish the direction of development. I will need more tests before Phillip Island. When you have a new project like this it is always difficult."
Bautista is well aware of how steep the mountain to climb is and the intense testing program has already suffered more than one stumbling block at Jerez due to bad weather that left little time to lap on the track.
"In a new project like this, there is never enough time. We need more time, especially after the tests we did in Jerez, which would have been very important also in view of today's work. The plan was to do there all the development that we are instead forced to do here. We are behind, let's see where we will be when we arrive in Australia".
However, the situation is not as serious as one might think and Bautista wants to see the glass half full.
"I think the potential of the material we have with the new Honda is fantastic. But it's as if we still haven't managed to put it all together to make it work. We have to fine-tune the electronics, we also have to work on the chassis, on the engine. I feel that every single component has great potential, but it is as if everything is not in the right place at the moment".
Alvaro is a fighter and he doesn’t hide the fact that he doesn’t particularly like the type of work he is doing, despite being aware of how important it is.
"Some changes work well, others less. Some things we test are almost used only to collect data and information. It’s necessary to determine what to do before the first race. It is not easy because you often go out of the pits and you go on the track not to set a time but to do another type of work, gather information. Not having a test team and not having much time, we were forced to do it here. It certainly isn't easy when you have to work this way, I don't mean it's frustrating, but you can't push to the limit. But that's what we have to do now. "