The Spaniard then rounded out his weekend with a strong fourth-place finish in the afternoon’s second Superbike race, missing out on another podium by a mere two tenths of a second.
First up today was the short Tissot Superpole race, which Haslam and Bautista started from seventh and sixteenth position respectively, based on yesterday’s qualifying results. Unlike yesterday’s action, the race took place in dry and sunny conditions. From seventh, Leon was straight into sixth through turn one. Meanwhile, Bautista immediately made up six positions through the first turns, placing tenth by the end of lap one. The Spaniard soon found himself battling, and passing, team-mate Haslam for seventh place, but on lap three, the race was brought to a halt with a red flag following an incident involving two other riders.
The race was restarted a short time later, the distance reduced to just five laps. The quick start procedure was implemented, with Bautista and Haslam lining up in seventh and eighth place based on their positions at the end of the previous ‘heat’. Haslam ran a consistent race, essentially holding seventh place from start to finish, despite closing in on sixth position in the final stages. Team-mate Bautista made a lightning start on the other hand, exploiting the rather chaotic situation through the first turns to position second. Two laps later, he found himself battling with Lowes for a podium finish, the Spaniard ultimately getting the better of the Brit to score third place. This excellent performance by Alvaro brought Team HRC its first podium of the 2021 season.
The second of the day’s races also ran in dry conditions. Third on the grid thanks to his earlier race result, Bautista lay fourth through the initial stages, Haslam eleventh, but an accident towards the end of the opening lap again saw the race halted with a red flag. The race was subsequently restarted, reduced by one lap to a distance of 19 laps. Bautista again placed fourth in the early stages, team-mate Haslam ninth. The Spaniard soon found himself battling for fifth with Redding, using all his experience to ward off the Brit’s attacks. By the mid-race point Alvaro was caught up in a thrilling three-way battle with Redding and Rea, passing the current world champion to take fifth on lap eleven. Over the final five laps, the Spaniard moved in on Locatelli immediately ahead of him, ultimately crossing the line in a close fourth place to score another 13 important championship points.
Unfortunately, team-mate Leon had a tougher time of it in today’s second race. Holding eleventh position for almost the entire duration of the race, Haslam crossed the line in this same position, scoring a handful of precious championship points.
In the championship standings, Bautista is tenth with 142 points, and Haslam thirteenth with 95 points. Team HRC will now travel straight to Jerez de la Frontera where round ten is taking place already next weekend.
Alvaro Bautista #19
"Today I honestly had completely different feeling compared to yesterday. With much more grip, I felt that I could push and that the bike helped me in this. In the Superpole race, I made a good start and gained some positions, so when I saw the red flag, I was frustrated because I was feeling so strong. After the second start, I just tried to stay focused and not make any mistakes. Third position was a fantastic result, and a well-deserved reward for the non-stop work the team and engineers are doing. In Race 2, higher temperatures meant that the conditions worsened, and the feeling too. There was less grip, and it was also more difficult to stop the bike. I just tried to understand the track and do my best. Towards the end, I had some small issues with the brakes, maybe due to the temperature. I ran a little wide at turn one and lost contact with the podium group. I recovered but couldn’t quite get close enough to them. Anyway, I’m happy, as it has been a solid weekend. It seems that in the last few races we’ve worked out some details together, identifying a good base set-up and more consistent in terms of reducing the gap to the front. I hope we can continue this trend until the end of the season."
Leon Haslam #91
"The Superpole race was a little frustrating. We had a small problem with traction control in the first heat but were able to made some useful changes in time for the restarted race. I made a strong start but then unfortunately got caught up in things when Rinaldi ran off track and the two Yamahas crashed. The pace wasn’t bad, and I finished P7, but it was frustrating for the incidents I was caught up in. And then the same applied in the long Superbike race really. I hit Lowes when he crashed early on in the first part of the race but then came another red flag. When the race restarted, I didn’t get away particularly well and although the race went OK, I wasn't feeling perfect with the front tyre right from early on. So I don’t feel that we maximised our potential in the races after having a good feeling in the practice sessions."