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Bautista: I didn’t expect to see Rea ahead of me

Alvaro Bautista says recovering from a tough start to his Assen race weekend to take a double victory was a relief but was surprised by Jonathan Rea.

Alvaro Bautista says recovering from a tough start to his Assen race weekend to take a double victory was a relief but was surprised to see Jonathan Rea battling for the lead on the opening lap of race two.

Having been able to get away cleanly in the lead and manage his own race pace in race one, Bautista dropped behind Rea on the opening lap of race two despite the reigning World Superbike champion starting from eighth place compared to the Spaniard’s pole position.

After sizing up his Kawasaki rival, Bautista retook the lead on Lap 6 before edging away to maintain his 100% winning start to his maiden World Superbike campaign and in the process extend his advantage over Rea to 53 points in the riders’ championship as the Kawasaki rider finished in third place behind Michael van der Mark on the Pata Yamaha.

Bautista feels the double win has been made all the sweeter having been off the pace during Friday practice, ending the day sixth fastest, while the cold conditions also challenged all riders but the biggest surprise came from Rea’s early attack in race two.

“In Race 2 to be honest I didn’t expect to see Rea ahead of me at Turn 4 because he was on the third row, but he made an incredible start,” Bautista said. “In the early laps I was taking it easy, trying to stay up and study him well but I could see that his pace was a bit slow so I decided to pass him.

“I always tried to give my all, in fact we also improved on the circuit record, so it was another wonderful weekend.

“I’m very happy because I won two races at a circuit which was maybe not very favourable for us, and where the Kawasakis had always won in the past. The weekend didn’t get off to the best start on Friday, but in any case we managed to be consistent and competitive.”

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