Alvaro Bautista’s column, Laguna Seca: A crash and a lot of anger
I’ve americanized after a week in the USA, a Hollywood visit included. The crash in qualifying was bad, but worse was the one in the race when I was behind the factory Ducatis of Hayden and Rossi. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with the good feeling on the bike.
Americanized. Hi guys! Haha! I’m americanized now after I’ve been a week in the USA where I have done everything. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I visited the factory of Troy Lee Designs, a sponsor of the team and well-known designer here. I rode motocross, the first time after the femur injury, but only to have some fun, nothing serious. I was also at Suzuki America for an autograph signing. I had the opportunity for some visits, a little bit; Los Angeles, I especially wanted to see Hollywood, is not like I expected…
Peculiar track. After all the visits it was time to focus on the GP, I was so eager after the last race to ride the bike. Laguna Seca is a very special circuit, unlike any other, with rather difficult corners, banked, flat, uphill, downhill, blind, where there’s practically just one good line and the rest doesn’t work. And if you add the weather here it gets more peculiar. Cold, cloudy and foggy until 11 or 12 o’clock and then you have to put sunscreen on because the sun burns, but does not get hot. Strange.
Crash. From the first session on we worked great, we modified the bike from last year to improve, because the references we had were not the best. I felt good on the bike, like at Sachsenring, and I could stay not far behind the front, just one second every session and the good thing is that it did not matter that it was cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon. But in qualifying I unfortunately crashed, I was eighth and had done my laptime with a soft tyre with 27 laps on it because we were testing if it would last the race. When I put on new tyres, with which it’d been relatively easy to improve the time, I crashed and lost four positions to finish 12th.
Behind the Ducati. Again far back on the grid, but with a good pace to try to start well and stick with the front, at least to fight for seventh place. I started fairly well, but when I was on the inside several riders closed the [first] corner and cut off my way, still I could move up some positions. After several laps I managed to get behind the factory Ducatis and I closed a gap of more than a second to them, running at a good pace, even faster than Dovizioso who was fourth. But when I was right behind Hayden and Rossi in turn two I lost the front wheel; it’s not so much that I lost it, it just slipped away and I couldn’t do anything to prevent the crash.
The softer one. Rage! I got very angry, because it would have been another good fight with them like in Germany, but mainly – it was not anyone’s fault – because we never tried the soft front tyre in the heat and I think if I had used that one it could have prevented the crash. I used it in the morning and it went well, but in the afternoon the track was always 50°C and in theory with that temperature you use the hard one, but we didn’t consider that the air was cold and cooled the tyres. A mistake to learn from for the future. You could say that’s the price paid for being the only rider of the team, because it is difficult to test so many things in one weekend. I must also say that in every session we went out with something modified, always trying to improve the bike, and maybe we forgot a bit about the tyres.
Good signs. I’m happy about the feeling this weekend, I’m getting more confident on the bike every time, I’m finding the limits and I think that is a good sign, it means that a lot can be improved. Although I have also that thorn in my side from being able to fight again for finishing sixth in this race, but best to forget about it and take away the positives.
Holidays. Now we have two weeks with no race, can you live without my column? Hahaha! I certainly can not endure so long without riding the bike, for me the GP in Brno could be next weekend. But it is also good to disconnect a little and I go home calmly, because I know we’re on a good way of work. Now relaxing, see family and friends, have fun with them and train hard for the second half of the season. We must continue to grow, that are my plans for these weeks. I wish you a happy summer full of fun! See you!