Alvaro Bautista has defended himself against fierce criticism from Valentino Rossi after the pair came close to being involved in a controversial first lap collision for the second race in succession in Catalunya last Sunday.
Gresini Honda rider Bautista crashed on the opening lap of his home race while attempting to pass Rossi’s factory Yamaha YZR-M1 for fifth position.
But he lost the front of his RC213V machine and had Rossi not taken evasive action, the sliding machine would have most likely wiped out the Italian.
Coming hot on the heels of a first lap collision between the two in Rossi’s home race at Mugello earlier this month, the nine-times world champion vented his frustration at Bautista in a scathing assessment of his tactics.
Last Sunday’s incident was the fourth time since the end of 2011 that Bautista has been caught up in a major first lap accident and he was penalised in a year ago for knocking out Jorge Lorenzo in Assen with a reckless opening corner move.
Rossi told MCN on Sunday: “For me the behaviour of Bautista is not very clever. In Mugello he made a mistake and he f*** my home race where it was possible for me to have big pain. But one mistake can happen. He cut the line and I was already there so he didn't see me and unfortunately it can happen.
But doing the same in the next race another time with me is very stupid I think. And it was a useless overtake because I was a lot faster than him. For me when Bautista sees me, Lorenzo and the other top guys he becomes a little bit crazy. It is like he has to demonstrate that he is better than us.”
Bautista though reckons a change in track conditions contributed to his crash, as he had not attacked the corner any differently to any other lap over the weekend.
Explaining his version of events to MCN at this week’s Motorland Aragon test, the former world 125GP champion said: “I feel a lot less happy than him (Rossi) about it I’m sure. For sure it was a big disappointment because I’d worked really good all weekend. I was happy before the race because I did a good qualifying and I felt too confident for the race.
I was very careful in the first couple of corners and I felt the riders in front of me were stopping me, s so I decide to overtake them. Maybe the track was not like in the practice because after my crash a few other riders lost the front also and the track was probably different. I didn’t brake any harder than in practice or later but maybe the track condition and tyre temperature was the problem.
I tried to stay on the inside because the other riders were on the outside line and I just crashed. I tried to overtake him and like normal he didn't want to lose the position, so he keep side by side and he was on the outside and I was trying not to go on his line. I tried to do my line because I didn’t want to hit anybody but unfortunately I crashed.”
Having narrowly avoided being taken out, Rossi urged Race Direction to summon Bautista for a chat about his riding.
But Bautista added: “Many riders have done this before. If the conditions were like in the practice I would not have crashed. I was close to overtake him and the most disappointed rider about this is me, and not those who didn’t crash. Everybody is free to say what they think but I just concentrate on the track because that is the best place to speak.”