BAUTISTA TALKS TOUGH: "No preference on 2024 teammate... I don’t win because I’m light"

Tuesday, 30 May 2023 06:42 GMT

The Spanish rider sat down to speak about his potential teammate next year and his rivals, as well as fighting back at people who say he only “wins because of the bike”

As the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship prepares to head to the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” for the 2023 Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round, Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) sat down to discuss several topics including who his teammate could be in 2024, how the gap is being closed by some new names and fighting back at his critics. Watch the full interview with Bautista in the video at the top of this page.

2024 TEAMMATE: “I don’t have a preference…”

Although Bautista has a contract secured for 2024, the name of the rider who will be in the factory Ducati seat next to him is unknown. The current incumbent is Michael Ruben Rinaldi and he will be hoping he can secure a fourth season with Racing – Ducati next year after joining the team in 2021. Bautista discussed how the pair have a good relationship but, with several riders linked with the seat, also explained how he has no preference and, adding tongue in cheek, how it would be interesting to see someone who says he only “wins because of the bike” next to him.

Bautista said: “I don’t know who my teammate will be. Honestly, I don’t have a preference. For sure, I have a really good relationship with Rinaldi, but I know that many riders want to have that bike. It will be a difficult decision for the team. Anyway, for me, it doesn’t change anything. It would be interesting to see a top rider who says that I win because of the bike to have the chance to ride the bike. I know that to have two top riders in the same team is difficult to manage so I don’t think Ducati wants this.”

TALKING TOUGH: “I don’t think I win because I’m light… I have the whole package to win”

The reigning Champion’s form in 2023 means he has taken 11 wins from 12 races and won every race he has finished, with his only non-score coming in the Tissot Superpole Race at Mandalika when he crashed fighting with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). It means he has opened up a 69-point lead over Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) after four rounds with Razgatlioglu the only other race winner this season.

Explaining why he believes he wins, and reviewing 2023 so far, Bautista said: “When people say I win because I have the best bike or I’m light or whatever… for me, my bike is the best. If you don’t have a good bike, a good team and you are not a fast rider, you cannot win. In the end, it’s the combination. I give my best with the bike and use all the performance of the Ducati. I don’t think I win because I’m light or because I have the best bike. I have the whole package to win. At the moment, I’m not complaining about my 2023 season. More than the results, I think the feeling I have with the bike has been the best feeling in my whole career. It means I can do everything on the bike, and it follows my riding style, so I enjoy every lap, every corner so I’m so happy, more than the results, for the feeling I have with the bike and with the team.”

FAMILIAR FOES, NEW RIVALS: “My rivals are very strong… new names closing the gap…”

While Bautista spent his debut 2019 campaign fighting with Rea and battling both Rea and Razgatlioglu in 2022 as he claimed the World Championship, the 38-year-old was keen to point out other rivals who have closed the gap this season. Bautista picked out Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and teammate Rinaldi as two who have got closer to him as well as the Team HRC duo of Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, the latter of whom has Honda’s sole podium in the 2023 campaign to date.

Discussing his rivals, Bautista said: “My rivals are very strong, especially Toprak and Jonathan but also we have new names closing the gap like Locatelli or my teammate, Rinaldi. Also, the two Hondas are very close. This year, you have to be more precise to make fewer mistakes and have more focus on the weekend otherwise you lose a lot of positions.”

UPCOMING TEST: a MotoGP™ outing and potential wildcard for Bautista?

Bautista took the 2022 WorldSBK title after a thrilling fight between him, Rea and Razgatlioglu with the Spaniard taking the title in the penultimate round of the season as he wrapped it up in Indonesia. Since then, he has revealed he asked Ducati for a MotoGP™ test which could lead to a potential wildcard for Bautista. He also spoke about Troy Bayliss who, in 2006, claimed his second WorldSBK title and raced in MotoGP™ at the season-ending Valencian Grand Prix to replace the injured Sete Gibernau and took victory to make history as the first rider to win in both WorldSBK and MotoGP™ in the same season.

Expanding on this, he said: “After I won the World Championship in WorldSBK, I asked Ducati to have a test with the MotoGP™ bike because, from the outside, it seems like a really fun bike. We will do the test very soon. I don’t do the test with an intention to do a wildcard. I’d like to do the test and let’s see what happens. I don’t think there’s a lot of chance to repeat what Troy Bayliss did in 2006. It was another time and it was different. At the moment, in my mind, it’s only the World Superbike Championship. I just take the test like a prize and don’t think about Troy Bayliss.”

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