A day that could have brought more for Team HRC in both qualifying and in Race1. The team will harness its experience to try to fight up front in Sunday’s races.
The Most circuit in the Czech Republic today staged the first of the races making up this sixth Superbike World Championship round. In what was an action-packed race characterised by a lot of close fighting and crashes, Team HRC riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam finished seventh and eighth.
The day’s first task was to make the most of the morning’s final practice, having lost a good part of Friday’s FP2 due to rain. The dry conditions meant that both Haslam and Bautista were able to work hard and improve significantly on their FP1 times, setting a best of 1’33.515 and 1’33.541 respectively to place eleventh and twelfth in the overall practice standings.
A short while later, in the Superpole qualifying phase, the two Team HRC riders did their best to make the most of the 15 minutes available to them, but both fell a little short of their potential. With a rear brake issue Alvaro set a 1’32.928 which put him in eleventh place. Leon was in the running for a possible second or even front row spot with his second qualifying tyre, but a small mistake through the final sector meant that he closed seventh (1’32.352), still a solid result and one that earned him a third-row start.
Race 1 got underway at 2pm local time and ran over a distance of 22 laps in dry conditions. Bautista made a flying start, moving straight up from twelfth to seventh, while Haslam positioned ninth through the first turns. On lap four the Spaniard moved up to sixth, followed by his team-mate, eighth. Bautista subsequently lost ground on lap ten after running wide through turn 15 and dropping back to eleventh as a result. Pushing hard, he quickly made up the lost ground and was back into seventh, a position he then held to the line, followed closely by team-mate Haslam, eighth.
Team HRC will return to the track tomorrow for the 10-lap Tissot Superpole race followed, in the afternoon, by the second 22-lap Superbike race.