Motorland Aragón is the stage for the opening round of the 2021 Superbike World Championship, one on which Team HRC Alvaro Bautista showed podium potential today while Leon Haslam scored some solid points, finishing race 1 in eighth place.
The morning’s final practice allowed the riders to refine the set-up of their CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADES and make some final adjustments with their technicians ahead of the qualifying session. Bautista was able to improve on his best of yesterday by eight tenths (1’50.085), to finish fifth, while Haslam’s fastest lap, a 1’50.916, saw him close the session in twelfth place.
The Superpole ran in cooler conditions (16°C) with respect to yesterday’s sessions and both Bautista and Haslam completed two fast laps apiece during the now shortened 15-minute session. A best of 1’49.246 for the Brit saw him close seventh, while the Spaniard finished in eighth position with a fastest time of 1’49.338. References that put both riders on the third row of the grid for the weekend’s first race.
The season’s opening race, contested over 18 laps, got underway at 2pm (CEST). The Team HRC riders retained their positions off the line, lying eighth (Haslam) and ninth (Bautista) through the first turns. The pair lapped with similar pace through the opening stages, swapping places with each other and working to catch Sykes immediately ahead of them. Picking up the pace, Bautista passed the BMW rider on lap five, to move into seventh position. By the mid-race point, the Spaniard was in fact the quickest rider on track, passing Gerloff to take sixth position. He continued to lap with a very strong rhythm, moving ever closer to a possible podium finish. Unfortunately, these hopes were dashed when the Spaniard crashed on the very last lap, at turn 2, the incident a result of an electric problem. Haslam lost a little ground towards the mid-race point, lying tenth, but was able to make up two positions in the final stages to cross the line eighth.
Alvaro Bautista #19
RACE 1 – DNF
“It’s really a pity about today because we were running a very competitive, high-performance race. Through the first laps, I lost a little bit of time fighting with other riders. This caused a little bit of a gap to open between me and the group ahead, but once I’d found my rhythm and made some passes, I was able to lap strongly and catch up to the podium contenders. I had a good chance to stay there and fight until the end but unfortunately, three or four laps from the end, I started to have some gearing issues. Every lap it got a little worse and then right at the end I crashed at turn two. When we analysed the data, we saw that there was an electronic problem with a sensor, and so in the middle of the corner I was at full power and lost the rear tyre. A shame, but luckily, I am unhurt and, if we look on the positive side, we can be happy with our race performance. Tomorrow we have two more opportunities and so we’ll see how it goes. I am happy with the work we’re doing because we are getting closer and closer to the leaders and hopefully tomorrow, we can finish the races with good results”