Race 1
WorldSBK 2021
Round 4

Strong sixth for Haslam at Donington Park; Bautista makes up eight positions to close eighth

gb Donington Park Circuit

WorldSBK Race 1 was held at Donington Park. With a good start and a strong pace, local rider Leon Haslam took his best result of the season, 6th place, both in terms of speed and overall result.

Strong sixth for Haslam at Donington Park; Bautista makes up eight positions to close eighth

After using the morning’s fully wet free practice to prepare in case of similar conditions come the races, Bautista and Haslam lined up for the Superpole qualifying phase, which also ran on a wet track. In what was to be his only flying lap, Haslam set the fastest time early on before a crash forced him to return to the pits and sit out almost the entire session. The English rider nevertheless concluded seventh, with a time of 1’42.206 while Bautista qualified sixteenth with a time of 1’43.625. These results translated, respectively, into a third and a sixth row start for the pair for the first of the weekend’s races.

The first 23-lap race got underway at 2pm local time on a damp track that dried rapidly throughout the race. Both riders opted for slick tires, as did the rest of the Superbike field. Haslam got away well, moving immediately into fifth position. Lapping with similar pace to the group fighting for the podium, and maintaining a strong rhythm throughout the entire race, Leon just wasn’t quite able to get close enough to make a move, ultimately crossing the line in sixth place to score his best result of the season so far. From sixteenth, the Spaniard made up two places over the course of lap one and was up into twelfth by lap two. Continuing to gain ground, Alvaro had climbed to seventh by lap sixteen, but was unable to make further progress due to the gap that had opened up between himself and those immediately ahead of him. Bautista closed the weekend’s first race in a solid eighth place.

Álvaro Bautista
Álvaro Bautista 19
Team HRC
Race conditions were very tricky today, especially in the early stages, as the track dried out. Like everyone else we opted for slick tires because you could tell the weather was improving. Because I started so far back, I had to be very careful with overtaking early on, because in some sectors there was only a narrow dry line. However, little by little I found good feeling and, in the end, it turned out to be not a bad race, at least in terms of the positions I made up and the data collected. We started the weekend with a different set-up in terms of weight distribution to try and understand a few things but today we ultimately went back to a setting closer to the one we’ve usually used this year. Let's see what the weather will be like tomorrow. In the very wet conditions we had this morning, I felt OK, so we'll see what we get.

Leon Haslam
Leon Haslam 91
Team HRC
This morning was really the first time we’ve ridden in the rain, so I was surprised how easy the lap times came. Having said that, I didn’t make it easy for my team as I then crashed in Superpole, so they did a great job to get the bike ready for the race. The wet gave us the confidence to battle hard, while we know we still have some limitations in the dry. But despite these, we came close to the podium. It was nice to get a strong result and be part of the front group. We still have some areas where we need to improve but we are clear as to what those are. Here, we’re struggling in the stop-start section, the final sector, so if we can find an extra something there, I’m confident we can run two strong races tomorrow.

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