For WorldSBK new-boy Alvaro Bautista, a return to Jerez for another test was always going to be a valuable experience as he moves on from his previous career to a new chapter on the new Ducati Panigale V4R.
After a slightly troubled first day back in the official Ducati WorldSBK set-up on Wednesday, Bautista bounced back to fourth on the timesheet, less than half a second behind the flying Jonathan Rea.
“Today was a bit better than day one. After two months without riding the bike and especially the last time I rode MotoGP, so I need to again to reset my head. Yesterday I struggled a lot to have good feeling with the bike, and I do not know if it was due to the weather, because it was quite cold. Or the new surface that needed more rubber, but on day one I struggled a lot,” the Spaniard told bikesportnews.com.
“The feeling was very bad. I cannot try a lot of things because of the feeling. Today it improved a little bit and we tried some solutions for my position on the bike. Last time I felt not very comfortable when riding. The position in the corner and braking was not correct. I felt it difficult to make some strength in the corner.
“Ducati worked in the winter and brought some items to try for my position and I felt better. I feel that I can ride the bike a bit better. The track conditions were improving and the feeling with the bike started to become more normal. I think we made a step in my riding position and it is very important for the future.”
Chaz Davies is looking for some improvement in initial throttle connection from his factory bike but for Bautista is not something his riding style demands to any great degree.
“Last time I did not have that problem, and for me the connection is not a problem. For sure the riding styles are different. Chaz is more stop and go in the corners and I have more corner speed. With the same character he feels some problem, but me not. So we did not work in this because I do not have this problem.”
When asked if his high speed cornering style is compatible with race-long tyre life in his switch to Pirelli tyres in WorldSBK, Bautista said, “We will see. It is strange because in November I could make many laps on the tyres, more than race distance, and the drop was not really high. But here at this test, especially yesterday, this morning or late afternoon, I had some problems of construction.
“After 12 or 13 laps the tyres were destroyed. I do not know if that is because of the surface or the temperature. So that is why the Portimao test is going to be very important. The grip will be like normal and we will see the dropping of the tyre, but in November I did not have this problem, only yesterday and today – so I think the surface has a big percentage of that.”
Working with Ducati in this new paddock is working out well for Bautista so far, according to his latest comments.
“The team does not push me and we are working really well. Ducati has a lot of data to work in the factory and I am quite happy with the work they did in the winter because we improved in some areas, so I am quite happy.”
The question is, with the pressure of expectation on his new machine as much as the new-to-WorldSBK-rider, will he be ready to race after four more days of testing – two in Portimao and two in Phillip Island.
“I have to be ready for round one,” he said. “We will see in Portimao because it will be a new track for me. In Australia I think that track is quite good for the bike because we can make high-speed corners. We will see.”