Alvaro Bautista could not have been more apologetic after a reckless move at the first corner in yesterday’s Dutch TT at Assen wiped out compatriot Jorge Lorenzo.
Bautista made a complete hash of braking for the tight first right-hander and after arriving much faster than the rest of the field; he lost control of his San Carlo Gresini Honda machine and torpedoed the luckless Lorenzo.
Lorenzo, who was chasing a fourth straight win for the first time in his career, was furious with Bautista’s reckless move and fortunate to escape injury after the heavy impact.
Bautista was hauled before Race Direction and having been found guilty of riding in an irresponsible manner, he will be forced to start next Sunday’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring from the back of the grid.
His Gresini squad appealed the sanction but the FIM Stewards confirmed the decision of the four-member Race Direction, led by Race Director Mike Webb.
Bautista admitted making a serious error of judgement and he said: “Unfortunately, when I followed (Andrea) Dovizioso’s wheel I lost my braking point and hit the brakes far too late. I tried to slow the bike down, but lost grip on the front and lowsided. I am very disappointed, even more so because I took out Lorenzo in the process and that was the last thing that I wanted to happen. It was my fault that he crashed out and I apologise profusely to him for that. I hope that nothing similar ever happens again. I also apologise to my team, because they worked so hard this week, only to miss out on what could have been a great result due to this mistake.”
Team boss Gresini saw one of his rider’s involved in controversy for the second year in succession at Assen.
A year ago Lorenzo was involved in a first lap incident with the late Marco Simoncelli and Gresini said: “It is a shame about the early crash. Alvaro really didn’t mean it. I am very unhappy, because the crash caught the world championship leader up in it. We are sad that it turned out this way and Alvaro has of course said that it was not intentional. He was trying to gain places but he lost his braking reference and hit the brakes too hard when the tyres were not up to temperature. That meant that he lost grip and that he slid into Lorenzo.”
For more reaction to the first corner incident that out a new complexion on the 2012 title hunt, see the July 4 issue of MCN.