The Spaniard remains in the paddock for a second year and takes on a whole new challenge by joining the all-new HRC project, eager to fight for victories from the start
Having enjoyed his rookie season in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista makes the switch from the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati outfit to the all-new, much anticipated factory Honda team, supported by HRC. The 34-year-old has taken an unprecedented 15 wins in 2019 but inconsistent form has landed him 91 points behind four-time WorldSBK champion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).
11 of Bautista’s 15 wins came in the opening 11 races, before Jonathan Rea struck back at Imola. Two wins at Jerez before his first crash of the season, Bautista’s season unraveled in a blink of an eye from that point on. However, back on the podium in Portugal after a point-less Laguna Seca have shown signs that his debut season in WorldSBK has still been an impressive one. Taking all of his experience to Honda and having ridden the circuits for a season, Bautista will hope to bring the iconic Japanese manufacturer back to the front of the world’s fastest production-derived class.
Speaking about his move to the brand new HRC outfit, the 2006 125cc World Champion said: “I am really happy, because I believe a lot in the new project with HRC. They want to come back to the World Superbike championship as a full factory team, so this has motivated me a lot. To join the HRC factory is very important, as they are an important factory and want to win in WorldSBK again. The challenge for next year will be very difficult, but for sure, I will try and use my experience in the World Superbike championship from this season to develop the bike and hopefully, fight for victories.”
Bautista is no stranger to developing motorcycles, having done so with the Aprilia Gresini outfit in MotoGP™ for two seasons, before turning to the Angel Nieto Ducati team and being a consistent top eight finisher. In WorldSBK this season, he has been integral in the development of the Ducati Panigale V4 R, which has seen his experience prove to be pivotal in the bike’s results.
“It was not an easy decision to make for me, as I am really happy with the Ducati family,” said Bautista. “We started with the new bike and a new project, and we were winning a lot of races. It was not easy but the project that HRC offered me motivated me a lot, as we will start from zero. I feel like one of the most important people in this project.”
The Honda outfit in 2019 has had occasional strong results in the hands of Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari – the former of which has been injured since Round 5 at Imola in May. Three top ten results courtesy of Camier, his replacement at Misano – Yuki Takahashi, who achieved the bike’s best result of the season – and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) have been the highlight of the Japanese manufacturer’s 2019 effort.
Seeing clearly into 2020, Bautista is cautious of predicting too much straight away, but wants to fight for victories throughout next season: “It is difficult to say now about the targets for 2020, but I want to work hard in the winter tests and arrive at the first round in the best way possible. I would like to fight for victories from the beginning, but we will see how everything is nearer the time.”
HRC President Yoshishige Nomura, stated his delight of Bautista joining the HRC family, in a bid to bring the Japanese manufacturer top results in WorldSBK: “We are very happy to welcome Alvaro Bautista to our WorldSBK racing project for next year. His arrival in the Honda racing family underlines our strong commitment to compete at full force in every motorsport category, fighting to achieve top sporting results and looking for the best technological innovations, in order to offer our fans and customers fun, joy and excellent products.
“Alvaro is a very fast, experienced rider who has already shown his strong racing attitude and competitiveness in his GP years and in his first season in the WorldSBK championship. We are confident that he will make a significant contribution to the growth and development of our project in the exciting and challenging Superbike World Championship.”
Can Alvaro Bautista end 2019 with the momentum to help his next challenge? Find out with the WorldSBK VideoPass!