Race 1
WorldSBK 2021
Round 5

Haslam eighth at Assen; a fall stops Bautista early on in race 1

nl TT Circuit Assen

There were mixed results for Team HRC in the weekend’s first Superbike race at the Assen TT Circuit, rider Leon Haslam working hard to score more championship points while Alvaro Bautista unfortunately suffered a crash in the opening stages.

Haslam eighth at Assen; a fall stops Bautista early on in race 1

After using the morning’s final free practice to make some last adjustments to the set-up of their bikes, the riders were ready for the Superpole qualifying phase. The action-packed 15-minute session saw Haslam set some interesting lap times on race rubber, but less than expected with the qualifying tyre. Leon completed a strong lap in 1’34.467 to finish eighth, meaning a third row start for the Brit in the weekend’s first races. Alvaro set a 1’34.791 to place tenth, so a fourth row start for the Spaniard.

Race-1 got underway at 2pm local time, and in dry conditions. From tenth on the grid, Bautista made a strong start in an attempt to stick with the front group, but unfortunately, he never even got a chance to battle against his rivals, losing the front before the end of the opening lap on turn 8 and thus putting a premature end to his race. Haslam meanwhile moved up into seventh in the early stages, working hard to get into a rhythm that would allow him to stick with the chasing group. Not feeling particularly at ease with the front, the British rider was nevertheless able to cross the line in eighth place (the race was stopped with a red flag after 19 laps, two laps ahead of time, after another rider suffered a crash), scoring some important points in the process.

Álvaro Bautista
Álvaro Bautista 19
Team HRC
"Today in the Superpole I didn't feel good with the qualifying tyre and lapped slower than with the race tyre yesterday. In the race I started quite well and was with the group in front. I wanted to try and stay there, especially in the first laps where we usually suffer more, but perhaps I had a little too much faith and lost the front, unable to save the crash. It's a shame because every time I find the confidence to push a little more, I take a risk. We have to improve the feeling to understand where the limit is. I am very sorry for the team because they are working very hard, and I’m sorry for HRC because they are making a real effort with this project. But when I feel I can go faster, I want to at least try, if not I would feel frustrated. It is what it is, it’s a pity but fortunately we have two opportunities to improve tomorrow, so we remain positive and look forward to scoring a better result tomorrow”.

Leon Haslam
Leon Haslam 91
Team HRC
“It was a bit of a frustrating race to be honest. During the practices I felt that I had good pace, making .34s on a used tyre, but come the race I was around 0.8 of a second slower. The feeling was not good with the front and I felt like I almost crashed on several occasions. So, in managing that, I couldn’t do more than eighth. But I’m disappointed as my expectations were much higher. We crossed the line anyway and will of course do our best to do more tomorrow”.

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