If we have a look at the timesheets, there isn’t much to be happy about, because Alvaro Bautista and Honda are already playing catch-up at Phillip Island. The Spaniard was in fact down in 15th place on Monday with a gap that is close to two seconds.
Exactly the opposite to one year ago, when the former Aruba rider was battling for the top positions with Rea.
"Here in Phillip Island I received some new developments from Honda, not as big as I would have liked, but going in the right direction - he said - my goal was to have not such a stiff bike and try to get more information from the tyres. Today we tested the material and we managed to improve the front, but not enough to have more confidence. I think the improvement is 15%. It is an important step forward, but not enough”.
One of the problems is therefore represented by the frame.
"I’m not an engineer and as a result I have to see the data to understand what solutions to adopt."
The Spaniard didn’t say much more on the matter, too bad that time is passing quickly.
“I am worried about the time available, because it is not easy to go and get the remaining 85%. We’ll see what will happen. Considering that it is still a brand new project, I think it will be challenging for us this weekend, but I am sure it is only a matter of time and we will get there if we continue to work, even though here in Phillip Island a difficult weekend awaits us ".
Bautista is trying to adapt to the characteristics of the new CBR 1000 RR-R, which has a four-cylinder in line engine with respect to Ducati's V-cylinder.
“For sure I had different feelings, I don't know if they are better or worse than before. What I can say is that I am very aggressive in riding and with the four-cylinder inline engine the acceleration is more immediate, as a result you have to know how to manage it, in particular regarding grip."
Things undoubtedly went better for Leon Haslam, who with his Honda set the fifth fastest time, half a second however from the top slot.
“Personally, I consider it a good day - the British rider declared - I felt good over the one lap, finding some good sensations on the bike. The fact is that we are only at the beginning and as a result there are many things to test. Today we managed to plan the schedule in the right way and tomorrow we will continue with the program".
The fact is however that it was not such an easy Monday for the riders, who had to deal with bad weather, technical problems (oil left on the track by Takahashi) and the classic …seabirds.
"The fact that we had to stop on several occasions certainly didn’t help, but personally I am satisfied. As I said, we had a lot of things to try, but we were able to plan the program in the right way".
If Leon wants to dream big, this is definitely the place to do it.
“Phillip Island is a one-of-a-kind place. As we all know, this is a particular track and a conservative approach is needed, in particular with regard to tyres. We are tackling these tests in order to understand the various dynamics".
Despite the results, Haslam and Bautista seem to be following the same path in the development of the bike.
“I still don't know if we are moving in the same direction with Alvaro. I can say that in previous tests we had the same point of view on many things. In fact, we both agreed to focus on a specific area to improve it according to the same indications".
His last comment concerns the race weekend.
“I completed nine or ten laps in a row, and I must say that the pace was not bad. Phillip Island is always a particular track, as well as the temperatures. Today was not particularly hot, so we will have to try and better understand the situation."