Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Questions And Answers

After one chilled and one deep-frozen WorldSBK outing since the last column we still have red-hot Bolognese as the only meal available in the WorldSBK race-winning restaurant.

It may have a liberal sprinkling of Manchego cheese on top, in the form of the super-fast and utterly faultless Alvaro Bautista, but so far the winning recipe in WorldSBK has been mostly about a game-changing machine and the people who make it sing at castrato engine frequencies all the way to 2019 perfection.

Proof that a well-set-up Ducati Panigale V4R is peerless right now came in two ways in Assen; an event so cold that even well-padded people known for their polo-shirts-with-everything-attire had to fiddle with zips on puffa jackets on their way out of the media centre.

Firstly, when the Aruba.it Ducati team decided to try to give Bautista more of a potential advantage for the future, their attempts to take his bike setting into a potentially more golden point on the compass met with disaster. In any direction of change, it seemed. Disaster was their rider’s word, not mine.

Once they got back to where they started race one in PI, in terms of their overall settings, it was trophy-picking business as usual for Bautista and Ducati. Two clear wins and we can only imagine it would be three if the wintry weather had allowed us to have that many. Driving snow is not well known as an aid to visibility or traction, of course.

Secondly, the Ducatis (all of them, even those toiling away just for some points at times) lost 250rpm under the balancing rules after Aragon, but no change in the leading man's results. OK, Assen did not have that one big straight that has basically ensured that Bautista has been able to break anybody’s challenge so far at PI, Chang and Aragon.

Alvaro’s Assen wins were significant, however, because this was the first track on the championship trail that some of Aruba.it’s rival teams and riders thought they had at least some hope of beating him at. Kinda.

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I'll say this if nothing else, despite the blowouts, it's worth watching to see Johnny ride like he was back on the Honda again. Not that I enjoy seeing him not win mind but rather I get to see the rider I enjoyed so much back then... again.