It has been a while since Ducati personnel looked quite as happy as they did WorldSBK race one at Phillip Island, and for some of them the smell of celebratory Prosecco can be relatively uncommon also.
Ducati team manager Serafino Foti, an ex-racer himself, said of his crew’s instant success with both Panigale V4R and new signing Alvaro Bautista, “After the practices we knew our potential. It was just to work for the safety of the tyre, because it was really important to be safe with the tyre, but if you remember Alvaro, with the old tyre, he was also really fast in MotoGP.
‘Some people saw him finish seventh and sixth in MotoGP, and said, oh… but if you saw the pace in Thailand, in the last four laps, he did 1’31.8, 1’31.9, like Marquez. Anyway we are really happy.”
Ducati had a good feeling about race one but Foti was blown away by Bautista’s pace on the all-new Ducati. “We expect to be competitive but not like 15 seconds! It was unbelievable. We saw our potential during the tests. We did a lot of jobs to fix the best set-up but now, Alvaro was unbelievable fast. Especially also in this track. Do you remember in MotoGP he was also very fast? Anyway, in this moment we are happy, but not quite happy, as we are sorry for Chaz. We will analyse all data because we need to find the right solution also for him. I cannot see him in tenth position because it is impossible.”
Part of Bautista’s incredible pace was put down to a warm track surface, according to Foti. “With a high track temperature and an old tyre he is unbelievably fast. It is the same as with a new tyre. He did a 1’30.9. But during practice he did a 1’30.0 with a race tyre. If you remember here in MotoGP, with Lorenzo’s bikes, he was unbelievably fast. For me Alvaro is a top rider.”