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SBK, Nava: "Bautista is fast on the straight because he rides like Pedrosa"

The Ducati technician speaks: "Alvaro carries a lot of corner speed, that's his secret. He rides the Panigale so well because he has a 250 style: the fact that he's small isn't always an advantage. The Honda? Slow development for the team because of the distance from Japan "

SBK, Nava: "Bautista is fast on the straight because he rides like Pedrosa"

Often the merits or demerits for a rider’s wins and defeats are assigned only to the rider himself. In reality, all the results are the outcome of great teamwork and in the case of Alvaro Bautista in SBK the most important element of this team is Giulio Nava, the chief engineer who follows him in the Aruba Ducati Team and who was also at his side in Honda and in Alvaro's previous experience riding the Panigale V4 in 2019.

Nava was a guest of one of our Bar Sport transmissions, talking to us about many topics in a very technical way and offering us a truly privileged point of view. From the perfect union between Bautista and Ducati to the reasons behind the difficulties of the adventure in Honda with the CBR, via the possible passage of Toprak in MotoGP.

Often Bautista's victories are linked to the power of his Ducati and that's all. How do you react to comments of this type?

"I usually laugh! I turn round and carry on. Of course if you look at the race, it is easy to see what happens on the straight, but that speed is not the result of the power of the engine because on the tracks there are also curves. If Alvaro is the best at tucking in the fairing, at the end of the straight he will do one extra km/h, the same thing if he comes out of the corners harder. Of course, when you set up the bike and you know that your engine has a few more hp you try to exploit this advantage, you don’t castrate it. Often Alvaro's speeds with Honda were higher than today and that says it all. If you only look at the top speed you don't understand the way things are, it really is a sum of factors. Of course, if you want to make an impressive headline, write that the Ducati does 320 km/h, ok. But the reality is that the victories are obtained with something else and the other bikes are not slower at all. "

Alvaro has a particular style, he rides a bit like he did with the 250. Does that help him today?

"Yes, Bautista makes good use of his qualities that allowed him to be very fast in 250. He carries a lot of speed in the middle of the corner, makes very round lines and this also allows him to be very fast out of the corner and therefore at the end of the straight. By nature he is inclined to ride like this, it is his characteristic. He has done it both in MotoGP and in SBK, and on some tracks this pays more, on others less. It is his natural tendency and I think this is the reason why today he is faster than the other Ducati riders. Then this bike, with all the differences of the case, is derived from the MotoGP bike that Alvaro rode for many years. In my opinion he has a tendency to lift very quickly from the corners , a bit like Pedrosa did with the 800s. Bautista is inclined to do this, maybe if he had always ridden SBK bikes it wouldn't be as easy for him. "

Haslam and Irwin told us that Honda's difficulties are linked to the fact that the CBR was born and developed with Bridgestone in Japan. Do you agree?

"Yes, I share this comment. I can say that between the CBR of the world championship and the one that does the Suzuka 8 Hours, there is a fairly high difference in terms of weight distribution and sizes. This means that it is the tyres that command, since everything else is the same ... it is as if an athlete who turns up to run the marathon, at the time of the race has to change his shoes and use some maybe bigger or smaller ones. He might be trained, but in the end he will suffer. Tyres today are quite delicate objects. Each manufacturer has its own philosophy and motivations. The SBK Pirellis are very versatile, I happened to use the same compound in Assen with snow and in Indonesia with 50 degrees. With others that doesn’t happen".

Do you think the fact that Bautista is small physically is a big plus?

"In my opinion, a rider who weighs 60 kg with leathers, like Pedrosa, of course, maybe he is fast because he weighs less. But he has many more problems in other areas. Dani could do everything very well, but just think that someone like Rea weighs 85 kg with leathers, helmet and everything and the difference is all about muscles. This affects the balance of the bike, the weight shift. It is not taken for granted that being smaller helps, on the contrary. Toprak in the Superpole Race managed to save the crash. But he is tall, someone 1m 50cm wouldn’t have done it ".

Speaking of Toprak, how do you see him in MotoGP?

"For me, if he wants to go there, he has to do it soon. If you stay in SBK for too many years, afterwards everything becomes more complicated, for a number of reasons. He risks adopting an SBK riding style and then fails to reset. I don't know what performance he may have, ten years ago I would have told you without any problems that he would have done well. Lorenzo won, Crutchlow was fifth. Today there is Fabio who is very strong and the other three are struggling, maybe Toprak could finish among them. It is difficult to give an objective answer, but as a fan I would be curious to see what he can do. From a rider’s point of view… I'd think about it ".

Where do all of Rinaldi's difficulties come from today?

"I think that Rinaldi is a rider with the skills and talent it takes to be competitive. There is no doubt that he is able to stay ahead. It is clear that from one year to the next little things are introduced on the bike, that you have to be quick to understand and sew on yourself. In my opinion, he is now struggling to find the basic setup that allows him to be competitive immediately. In SBK on Saturday you are already racing. You must know how to set the bike up on Friday, but if on that day you are working on the bike to improve the problems, it is not easy for the rider. In MotoGP they have two bikes in the garage to experiment with, in SBK they don’t, time is less and this counts a lot. With Bautista we have found a base that works well and this simplifies the work. Then if you have a teammate who is strong, this puts a bit of pressure on you. Let's add that Rea and Bautista are going very strong this year, much more than last season. They have made a step forward that the others have not".

Looking at you from the outside, it seems that between you and Alvaro there is total harmony.

"Yes, between us there is an enormous feeling and this is the result of our history together. We have built trust over the years, through many episodes. There were also moments when I would have thrown something at him! But I have to say that working with Alvaro is easy, he is an extremely intelligent rider. He does not want to be a technician, he tells you what the problems are but he leaves it to me to find the solutions. rest. He just gives feedback and he does it very well, he is never closed to experiments and carries them out perfectly ".

What went wrong in Honda?

"I got along well with Honda, I had excellent personal relationships. But my overall judgment is obviously affected by the performance side, because in the end we are here to win. Ducati and Honda are different. In Ducati you can feel the direct presence of the company, in HRC you realize that the bike was developed in Japan, approved with tyres you don't use for racing ... all this doesn't help. Ducati has developed the bike in another way and also to pass feedback from the track to the company is much simpler. Mainly for a linguistic question, and also because you don't have to do many passages. If I talk to you, I transfer things 99% well to you. If instead I say it to you, then you say to someone else and then so on, the message gets lost. In my opinion this was one of the reasons why it didn't work much. Then the physical distance also has an effect…. we happened to lose even half a day of testing, because we had to solve a problem. In Japan it was the evening and apparently simple things were always very difficult ".

If Toprak were to leave, who would you see on his bike from SuperSport?

"I know Aegerter well and I must say that he has surprised me a lot. He has impressed me from a technical point of view but also for his speed. In Portimao in the test after two days he came within two tenths of Haslam, he proved to deserve this chance. there are so many things that come into play. I can say that he has worked very well. For me he is a valid rider, between talent and ability to work in the garage, for what he has demonstrated, I would give him the chance " .


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