The talent of Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani is clear to all after some of his recent showings in WorldSBK, and at Villicum he rode to third place after leading, then holding off six-time champion Jonathan Rea for much of the race.
The independent Ducati team is running a strong effort around Bassani this year again and it is showing in the results. But is there something special at Villicum for him, as he was also fast here last season.
“Yeah, I like the circuit,” Bassani confirmed. “I like a lot the layout. It’s good for my style. So, I feel good. I feel strong with the bike. From yesterday, we did an incredible step in the setup. This morning I felt really, really good in the race from the start. I tried to do my pace for the race, for the tyres. We took a podium, and I think it’s incredible for an independent team, three podiums in a season. So, I’m happy. I’m happy for the team, especially.”
And how did he describe the fight with, and eventual third place behind, Rea?
“Jonny is Jonny,” grinned Axel. “He is a world champion. It was a really hard battle. We touched a lot,” said Bassani, clapping his hands together, “but I like to race like this.
"This is Superbike for me. We need this race. I hope tomorrow to repeat a battle like this.”
Bassani rode defensively for a long time, but not quite long enough to keep second. Rea swept through for a strong result despite the Italian being able to re-pass even when the Kawasaki got by him a couple of times for a short while before Bassani could blast through again. “My engine helped me today, for sure,” the 23-year-old said. “But in the last part of the track, the Kawasaki and Yamaha is really, really fast. So, it was difficult to stay in front of Jonny. I want to do a step on the last part of braking. Of course, the last part of the race, I started to close [fold] the front. I was 100 per cent I don’t feel good. So, I want to watch the data to understand what happened. Tomorrow if we don’t have this problem, I think it’s possible to stay behind Alvaro, second, and in front of Jonny. On the last part of the brake, when I arrive, brake okay, when I start to enter the corner, it closes every time. So, it was really difficult for me.”
The satellite rider said his change of set-up for this round, between Friday and Saturday, was profound.
“We changed all the bike, the front, the rear, everything,” he explained. “We changed everything. It’s another bike. It’s different from the other circuits. It’s really strange this circuit because we use a set-up more stable.”
Bassani already said he is aiming to beat Rea on Sunday, but what about Bautista?
“Alvaro has an incredible pace,” he acknowledged. “I tried to stay with him for two laps, but it was impossible for me. So, I decided to manage the battle with Jonny. I tried to arrive second, but I need something for make a difference on the last three, four laps for arrive in front of Jonny.”