Face-to-face with Team HRC riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam

2020-03-19 12:40
The WorldSBK Championship was able to complete its first round in Australia, as scheduled, before being impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and the measures implemented to combat its spread.

Team HRC riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam share their thoughts on their first race weekend aboard the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP and on how they are dealing with the current situation.





Alvaro Bautista 19

1. How is life for you during this period?

It's a strange situation, one we've never experienced before. This virus mainly affects people who are older and frail, or who already have other problems. It’s time to think more about others than about ourselves. It's a time for solidarity. Let’s hope that the situation will improve as soon as possible and that we never find ourselves in this position again.

2. For a world-class professional athlete, training and psychological preparation is very important. Have you changed your physical and mental preparation at all as you wait to return to the racetrack?

Right now, I would say that I can do about half the training I usually do. Luckily, I have a small gym at home so I can do something, but I can’t train at a more technical level, meaning riding, whether motocross, supermotard or flat track. Let's say that I can train physically but not technically, in a normal, non-specialist way. But you have to adapt to every situation. Mentally, I’m not focusing on the fact that we can't ride, or on the uncertainty of when we can return to racing. I try to use the time at home in a positive way, to be with my little girl which is certainly very nice for me.

3. The WorldSBK Championship has been able to complete its first round, as scheduled, in Australia. Over these last two weeks, have you had chance to review the races and analyze that first weekend? How would you judge it, with a clear head, and what do you expect from the next rounds?

At least we were able to start the championship. It was a difficult weekend but at the same time a very positive one. We knew, before we got there, that it would be tough, because our team is new, the bike is completely new, and we have to develop it as best we can. We need time and we didn’t have much of that before the first race, also because of the unfavorable weather conditions we found during the winter tests. But we made the most of the Australian weekend to find solutions that will help us to improve our confidence with the bike and, despite a complicated weekend, which included a crash on Saturday, we were able to show the potential that we have, that the bike has, that the team has, that Honda has. This is positive and allowed us to gather a lot of information with which to take the next step. Of course, in this situation, the engineers can only work at home while the track has to wait.

4. Have you kept in touch with your technicians and engineers in Japan?

Yes, after the race we talked because, you know, during a race weekend we exchange just the biggest, most immediate comments and maybe you forget some small details that can nevertheless be very important. So, yes, after Australia we have been in touch, exchanging impressions, trying to go into more detail and clearly the work continues, even if it’s not at the track. We keep in touch with the factory.

5. Do you have a message for your fans?

That the most important thing now is human life and therefore: stay at home! Let's think about others, this is the time to show solidarity. Hopefully, people who are ill will recover and the races will restart soon, proving that the situation is back to normal. A big, virtual, hug to all of you!

Alvaro Bautista




Leon Haslam 91

1. How is life for you during this period?

The coronavirus has been a little strange for me. I have many friends in Italy and Europe who have been affected a lot. Things are now getting more serious in the UK too, with schools gradually closing and new rules coming in. For me, it’s more the uncertainty regarding what’s going to happen day by day. All we can do is listen to the professionals, do what we can to stay safe, and our focus on our families. We just need to try and make the most of each day.

2. For a world-class professional athlete, training and psychological preparation is very important. Have you changed your physical and mental preparation at all as you wait to return to the racetrack?

I have a good trainer who I see every day. Normally, I would ride 3 or 4 times a week, trail, enduro or MX. It’s harder in terms of travel now of course, so while I’d normally be over in Barcelona flat-tracking or round at friends’ houses for MX, now I’m just sticking to a standard training programme, trying to keep a positive mind and always working to improve the fitness, and try to keep as healthy as possible.

3. The WorldSBK Championship has been able to complete its first round, as scheduled, in Australia. Over these last two weeks, have you had chance to review the races and analyse that first weekend? How would you judge it, with a clear head, and what do you expect from the next rounds?

Australia was frustrating for me, as our potential was quite good in race 1. We were fighting for the podium with a few laps to go, despite a few small issues. Sunday was something of a disaster, as the potential was there in terms of lap times, but we crashed on lap 1 of the sprint race and then suffered another crash in the final race of the day. The positives were the lap times and where we could have been fighting, while the negative was the issues we had in race 1. But we can learn from this and work to rectify those problems whenever we race next.

4. Have you kept in touch with your team and with the engineers in Japan?

The big positive is the effort my team, Honda and HRC are putting in. We continue to communicate and I know the work never stops. They have one goal – to win – so that’s not something I have to worry about. I’m still getting emails and calls and I know that people are thinking and analysing the information so I’m happy to be a part of this and looking forward to returning to the track.

5. Do you have a message for your fans?

Keep safe and look after yourselves and everyone that might be vulnerable. Hopefully we’ll be back to normal soon and able to entertain you at the circuits again, but in the meantime, look after yourselves, look after your loved ones and we’ll see you soon.

Source: HRC

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