DONE DEAL: Bautista with Aruba.it Racing – Ducati for 2023 in WorldSBK
The 2022 Championship leader will be back in factory Ducati red for 2023 as the successful partnership continues
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will continue for another season in the factory Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team in WorldSBK, with a new one-year extension being announced. The Spaniard, currently the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship leader by 36 points, has been in mighty form since returning to Ducati from Honda for this season, notching up six wins and is yet to finish off the podium, with 12 podiums from 12 races. With Bautista remaining at Ducati for 2023, he becomes the eighth rider to be locked in, whilst Ducati make it all five factory teams with at least one rider announced for next season.
STAYING IN RED: Bautista and Ducati together in 2023
This is Bautista’s second stint at the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team, with him first coming to the WorldSBK paddock in 2019 with the team. It was a mesmerising display with 11 wins in the first 11 races, although mistakes, crashes and being caught up in other incidents eventually saw him overhauled in the title race by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Despite taking 16 wins, 24 podiums and second in the title, Bautista switched for the Ducati Panigale V4 R to the inline four-cylinder Honda CBR1000RR-R SP, leading the all-new factory Team HRC effort in 2020 and 2021. In two seasons, three podiums came but no wins, with the 37-year-old Spaniard heading back to Ducati for the 2022 season. It’s proved to be an inspired switch, missing out on a last lap battle victory in the first race of the season, whilst six wins have followed since.
Talking about the new deal, Bautista stated his joy and staying with Ducati for another season: “I am very happy to be able to continue at least one more year with the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team, which represents a family to me. I have always felt good with this team and since I have returned, the feelings have been even more positive than in the 2019 season. When something works so well, we can only keep working, looking ahead. I feel I am still at the top; I feel I can still give a lot. Physically and mentally, I think this is the best time of my career. I am also delighted to continue working with Ducati, a very important factory, tech-oriented, always looking for development: to be part of this project, of this team, is something incredible on a personal level.”
Team principal Stefano Cecconi also commented: “I have always believed in Alvaro from a sporting point of view, and we have always had a very good personal relationship even when our paths temporarily parted. When we decided to bet on him again last summer, some people called this move a very risky gamble, but there was a conviction on both sides that we were making the right choice: results so far confirm our decision and make us happy.
“This is also the reason why we are glad to continue our relationship with Alvaro for at least another year. Today we want to make a small exception to the rule, and we toast his renewal; already from tomorrow, we are going back to work to prepare ourselves in the best possible way for the next races. The season is still long, and we know very well that we cannot afford to let our guard down.”
Ducati Corse’s General Manager Luigi Dall’Igna shared the elation of Bautista’s re-signing: “We are very happy to be able to continue together with Bautista in 2023. As in the 2019 WorldSBK season, this year, Alvaro has been immediately competitive with our bike, starting from the winter tests; he is now leading, not surprisingly, a wonderful season, fighting intelligently for the world title. He is a precise rider, easy to work with: his fantastic riding style is not only enjoyable to watch on TV, but above all, it is his key to fully exploiting the potential of our Panigale V4 R. We are convinced that together we can achieve many important goals.”
BAUTISTA’S BIO: a career spanning three decades
Bautista’s full-time World Championship career will head into its 20th anniversary in 2023, with him making a full-time debut in 2003 in the 125cc World Championship, following three wildcards the year before. A strong end to 2003 saw him pick up podiums in 2004 before he’d go on to take a career-first win and the World Championship in 2006. From 2007 until 2009, Bautista was a fierce competitor in the 250cc World Championship, coming close to the title in 2008, missing out to the late Marco Simoncelli. A move to MotoGP™ beckoned in 2010, where he took strong results in Paul Denning’s factory Suzuki outfit until the end of 2011, when the manufacturer left. Bautista moved to the Gresini Honda team in 2012, picking up a pole and two podiums, finishing fifth overall.
His last podium came in 2014 at Le Mans with third, before leading the all-new Aprilia project for 2015. Two top ten results and consistently in the points, Bautista put in hard work during the first two years of the project, with two top seven finishes coming towards the end of 2016. He switched to the Aspar Ducati team for his final two years in the paddock in 2017 and 2018, where he was a consistent top ten finisher and top five challenger, with five top five finishes before his switch to WorldSBK.
In terms of Ducati’s WorldSBK stats, Bautista features strongly; at the time of the deal being announced, Bautista sits on 22 wins for the manufacturer but with just six more, he will level with his 2019 teammate Chaz Davies in the manufacturer’s rankings, making him the rider with the third-highest number of wins. He’s also on 36 podiums, with it likely that he’ll achieve a 50th podium for Ducati before the end of the year.
WHAT NEXT FOR 2023? Eight riders confirmed…
In terms of how the grid looks for 2023, Bautista becomes the first factory signing for Ducati, whilst also becoming the eighth rider to secure themselves a seat on the grid. Other riders include Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and his teammate Andrea Locatelli, Kawasaki’s Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), BMW’s new recruit for 2022 Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and 2022 rookie Iker Lecuona (Team HRC). Other riders on the grid with rides are Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) and Luca Bernardi (BARNI Spark Racing Team). Get a full guide to WorldSBK’s silly season here!
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