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Catalunya WorldSBK test: Bautista hampered by motocross injury

Alvaro Bautista had a relatively short first day on a heavily revamped Honda Fireblade at the supported WorldSBK tests in Catalunya, resting up after suffering a minor but painful motocross training injury to his chest recently.

He was overall 11th fastest on day one, 1.157 seconds behind the early pace-setter, Jonathan Rea on the works Kawasaki,

Explaining his injury and why he tried to keep it quiet until now, Bautista said, “I did not say anything to my team until today because I wanted to check on the bike, but last weekend I had a small training incident in motocross. I had a big impact on my chest, so I just waited to check on the bike.


"This morning I realised that it was very painful, so I tried to do all the tests we had today, then I stopped because I felt very bad. Then, tomorrow we have another day, so for that reason I stopped before the end.”

This was his second Honda winter test in readiness for the 2021 season, and he and his riding partner Leon Haslam already seem to have a very new bike under them.

“We did two days of testing before this and for sure we had new parts from HRC,” confirmed Bautista. “Especially, we made some update on the engine, also the electronics, the set-up of the bike and my position on the bike, weight distribution - HRC made a lot of work during the winter. We had two days in Jerez to more of less fix what we would have for the future; what would work or not. Here we can be more precise in what we want to do. I am happy because HRC worked a lot. Now we are making the base set-up for the start of the season.”

Last year was especially difficult for the new Fireblade in terms of electronics, and that is one area Bautista is clearly happier with even at this early stage of 2021.

“Now it seems the electronics are more balanced during all the lap, more consistent during all corners,” he said. “Now you start to feel the bike in all corners have the same feeling. Before it was like more crazy. In one corner it was one way, in the next corner another way, if you went in faster it worked in a different way as well, so now if you enter faster, or slower or with more lean angle or less it is working more or less, in the same way, always. We made a big step as it makes the bike more neutral and more balanced everywhere. We can say that it is not the same bike as 2020.”

Despite his own pain and not being on the best possible pace yet, Bautista already thinks that the long winter in the workshops, some new bike specs and then some key rider changes will all have a positive effect on the sharp end of the championship battles. The early signs are there. On day one at Barcelona there were five manufacturers in the top five places (Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and BMW) and four riders within 0.169 seconds of each other.

So the on-track fights may be much closer this year? “I think so, all the manufacturers are working really hard and everybody is closing the gap,” said Bautista. “I think this year there will be more fights for the victories, not like the last two years when there have been two manufacturers fighting for the victories.”

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