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SBK, Bautista: "Denning? Maybe he's been mad at me since I left his team."

"Paul had asked me to stay with an 800cc, but I said no and maybe that's why he lost the opportunity to continue in MotoGP and is against me. Renewal? I will make a decision soon."

SBK: Bautista:

Amidst bursts of rain, gusts of wind and temperatures that were certainly not spring-like, it was a crazy Friday that faced the Superbike riders at the Assen track. A first day of practice in which it was Alvaro Bautista who came out on top, setting the fastest time in FP2.

"I finished the session with my fingers all white because of the cold," Alvaro recounted at the end of the session, before taking the balance of his Friday: "In the dry it was difficult, because the track was not completely dry, both in the morning and in the afternoon. With little rubber on the asphalt the grip was also quite low, and the wind, especially in the afternoon, was very strong, especially in the backstretch, where it seemed to push you off the track. I had to face the straight almost in the crease to avoid being in the grass. I certainly didn't have good feelings, and in conditions like these it's difficult to get references or feeling, because with the wind, it's complicated to be able to do two laps following the same line. In any case, it is better to be first than tenth with these conditions, on a track where everyone is strong. We'll see what conditions we find tomorrow and try to adapt as best we can."

Sensations in some ways similar to those found in the wet."The track was half wet and half not, because the last sector was almost dry, but the feeling was not bad. You have to be ready for anything and we'll see what happens - said Bautista - I think this weekend is more about surviving than working for the race, in the sense that not knowing what conditions will be there in the race you have to adapt to those you find on the moment and try to get the best, even if it is difficult to be able to prepare the set-up or work with the tires."

In conditions like these, being able to rely on data from last season could be a big help, but the Iberian rider is not convinced that it is really a big advantage.

"It's clear that I'm still with Ducati while other rivals have switched brands or there are riders who are in their first year in the category, but another aspect to consider is that, for some reason that I don't know, the set-up I was using last year is not working this year - he analyzed - The important thing is that the feeling I have with the bike is very similar to the one I had in Barcelona, but in the end I don't think I have an advantage, also because we lapped on slower times than last year and the problem arises when you're on the limit and you have to improve, because you can't do that if the set-up is not perfect."

Leaving aside for a moment what happened on the track, Alvaro commented on statements made in recent days by Paul Denning, who had called the Spaniard's complaints about weight pathetic. Old grudges dating back to the Suzuki days?

"Maybe yes, because I remember when I was racing for his team in Suzuki and there had been a switch from 800cc to 1000cc, Paul had asked me to stay but with an 800 and I said no, because I wanted a 1000 so I could battle with the others and maybe, for that reason, he lost the opportunity to continue in MotoGP. Maybe he's been against me ever since," the 39-year-old noted.

"Honestly, I can't answer him from a technical point of view because I'm not an engineer, but from the rider's point of view, I can say that he has never ridden this bike, so he has no idea what the sensations are, what it takes to be fast, or how much 5 kilograms affect in cornering, or braking, or direction changes. And not knowing that, it's better he doesn't talk about it," added the Ducatista. " Believe me when I say that there is a big difference between a heavier bike and a lighter bike. As I've always said, this rule is unfair to me, with bikes with this power and this weight. I'm not saying this for me, but because if more light riders come in the future they will have to start with a handicap, so the manufacturers will always choose heavier riders so they don't have to ballast the bike."

A last joke then goes to the future of the Spanish champion, who although he has not yet decided whether or not to renew, has already cashed the full confidence of Ducati's top management. As even Mauro Grassilli admitted in an interview.

"It's very nice. It is a pleasure that the top management wants me - commented Alvaro - At the moment I am focused on achieving my best performance this season. We will see, but I think I will make a decision for me and the team soon."

Bulega: "This Friday was like a first day of testing."

Instead, Nicolò Bulega's Friday ended with a sixth place, about half a second off his teammate's benchmark. Coming back from an operation for compartment syndrome and on his first outing with the Panigale at the Assen circuit, the reigning Supersport champion can therefore only be satisfied with this start to the weekend.

"It was slightly more difficult than the first two Rounds, but just because I had never ridden an SBK on this track, which is beautiful but complex, because you have to be very precise and clean. In Phillip Isand and Barcelona I came a little more prepared for FP1 because we had done testing before, whereas this was like the first day of testing, in difficult conditions. It was a bit of a tricky first day, but I felt good," he related.

"It was difficult to find the pace because the conditions changed every five laps. It was complicated to be able to figure something out, however, it wasn't bad, because I was quite fast in the first few laps of FP2, even with the SC0," Bulegas added. " I didn't mount the SCX today, which I think might help a little bit, but I had a very good feeling even in the rain. It was a good first time with this bike in the wet."

While not yet in top condition, the Emilian rider can also be pleased with the good feedback he got from a physical standpoint.

"I was a littlescared that I might feel pain, but the good thing is that I didn't have any, " he stressed, " I don't have much strength in my arm after a few laps because I only started training it last week and riding these bikes takes a lot of training. I'm not at my best, but it's not bad-I would say I'm 90 percent."

Automatic Translation by DeepL

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