Ducati’s leading rider speaks about his explosive WorldSBK debut and what’s life like off the track
125cc World Champion, 250cc runner-up, MotoGP™ star and now a record rookie in World Superbike – Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is the rider who was always there. Last weekend, he stole the spotlight at Phillip Island after his hat-trick of wins at the opening round, an unbelievable debut and a moment of vindication after several years without visiting the rostrum. WorldSBK.com managed to sit down with the man from Talavera de la Reina just a few minutes after his final exhibition on Australian soil. This is the man of the moment, in his own words.
What is “winning”? For me it’s the feeling that you can do anything, the smell of champagne that I had missed so much and the feeling that, at that moment, you’re the best at what you do.
I couldn’t have dreamt this weekend if I’d tried. It’s been so long since I experienced something like this, I’m so happy. Proud, because I’ve worked so hard for many, many years; I might not have had the right material at the right moment, but at the end it all pays off.
I have never stopped working, in fact I’ve worked harder to achieve my goals, which is to give the best of myself and win, be that in one championship or another.
I’m 34 years old. It might seem like I’m old, but I jump onboard that bike with the same eagerness as when I started, the same excitement and the same ambition. Motorbikes are everything for me, I’ve been riding them for as long as I remember, it’s my life.
Off the track, I’m lucky that I have a fantastic family who has never failed to support me, right from the very beginning, in good times and bad times. Not everyone can say that. Friends are also important, I’m fortunate enough to have true friends, it’s something you can’t put a price on.
Who is in my inner circle? Mario, my assistant, and my wife Grace. Honestly, I don’t think of Mario as an assistant, he’s a friend that comes along with me, takes care of me and makes sure that I can fully concentrate on my racing. I don’t need to do anything because he does it all. Grace cracks me up, she’s always in a good mood, trying to pull a smile out of me even in the toughest of times. She knows me and knows how to deal with me. And then there’s my family, who are sometimes at the circuits.
The team and the relationship with all the technicians are also very important. The trust between us. It’s often that we know what the other wants to say with just a look.
I like to relax at home, I enjoy being with my family and friends. I enjoy going to the movies because it relaxes me, cooking too. I can cook a fair share of things! It goes without saying that there’s also all the training and gym, it’s where I give 100% to try and be better every day, but besides that I like my peace and quiet.
Yes, I am the “Talavera de la Reina” rider. Not many “Talaveranos” have competed in MotoGP™ and World Superbike, won races and climbed onto the podium. I think that it isn’t easy to get here considering where I came from. We don’t have as much support as they do in Catalonia or Valencia, where motorbike racing has always had a better following and support. It’s been a bit harder for me, but we’ve worked hard, and I’ve had the great opportunity of becoming a rider in this life. I won’t say that I deserve any more merit than anyone else, but I’ve had my difficulties, that’s for sure.
I remember when I won in 2006, my popularity just blew up. I couldn’t step outside, everyone wanted their own picture or autograph with Álvaro. I think that by now everyone in Talavera has had their photo taken with me, so now I can walk around more peacefully… although we’ll see if that changes after this weekend!
Truth is, I really appreciate the love and support. You know the saying, a prophet is not without honor save in his own country; but in my home everyone follows and supports me a bunch; I have a phenomenal fan club that never stops and treats me so well. I’m proud of the love.
I was a world champion and I enjoyed it incredibly. That is really where you feel like the king of the world. It became a dream come true for me in 2006. No one will ever take that away from me, but at the end of the day, in any sport, what you last achieved is all that matters. Today you win, you’re the best. Tomorrow you struggle and don’t, you’re now worthless. That’s the way it is, and it’s why you can never rest on your laurels, you always have to be ready, innovating and improving yourself if you want to keep growing as a sportsman.
Who is Álvaro Bautista? Is that the last question? He is a pleasant boy, coming from Talavera de la Reina, a simple guy who isn’t a fan of any extravagancies. Someone who takes pleasure in his people, his family; whose father shared his passion for motorbikes and now enjoys them alongside him. Someone who loves life and being the happiest person on the planet.
Don’t miss the next round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in three weeks’ time, live from Thailand thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.