HOW TO SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE BAUTISTA

ABHands, eyes, brains or balls? One or more of these are leading Alvaro Bautista astray, and directly into the gravel trap; he’s a ‘crasher’ alright.

With three races completed this year, Alvaro has finished none of them anywhere other than flat on his arse in a gravel trap; his green and white, leather-clad limbs flailing through the air and crashing to the ground is fast becoming a familiar, painful sight.

Despite being Spanish – an apparent prerequisite for success in MotoGP – Alvaro is most certainly struggling compared to his rivals, compatriots or not. The talent is undoubtedly there, as witnessed in previous seasons, so it is unlikely that his natural ability will have suddenly abandoned him – the hands and eyes are still sharp enough. And for any racer to mount his steed and charge head-first toward the enemy despite many a painful tumble shows a certain degree of bravery (or stupidity?) and so nobody can deny that Alvaro has the balls for the job.

I fear then that the issue lays within his own head. I’ll perhaps refrain from using the word ‘brain’ as it’s widely accepted that motorcycle racers don’t possess such a thing, else they wouldn’t be doing what they do. Mentally however, compared to his rivals, it seems Alvaro Bautista gets…excited, akin to an excitable child. This is the man who once crashed while performing a celebratory wheelie having won the 250cc Czech Grand Prix a few years ago, yet Alvaro risks more than mere grazed knees and the slightest boo-boo – he’s beginning to push his luck.

The previous two seasons, when running near the front of the field Alvaro would often throw away good results in the pursuit of great ones; the sight of Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and the opportunity to beat them would send Alvaro into over-drive and beyond his and the ‘bike’s limits. Even Valentino Rossi, the wildest of all characters once noted Bautista’s penchant for chucking his Honda at the scenery or at competitors when circulating toward the head of the field: “For me when Bautista sees me, Lorenzo and the other top guys he becomes a little bit crazy”. And now Marc Marquez is on the scene, setting alight the world of two-wheeled racing, another Spaniard hogging the limelight, a portion of which could quite rightly be afforded to Alvaro.

Of course, Alvaro is trying to prove his worth, show that he can be as good as Rossi, Marquez and co. but with every bone-crunching, leather-scuffing crash the pressure mounts as the need to push harder and impress increases until, inevitably, the limit has been reached and another gravel trap beckons.

While fans love nothing more than witnessing riders push to the limits and beyond, Alvaro doubtlessly needs to rein it in a touch; he’s no Marc Marquez, all elbows, tyre slides and wheelies, he’s Alvaro Bautista, the fiercely competitive, talented and likeable young racer who needs to play to his own strengths and recognise when he’s beaten. It’s time to banish the ‘crasher’ within him, engage whatever it is a MotoGP racer uses for a brain, keep the ‘bike rubber-side-down and challenge the front-runners – with Marc Marquez on such dominant form, goodness knows fans of close competition need it, as well as Alvaro.

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