The Spaniard made it two titles in a row as a flawless performance in Race 1 gave him victory and enough margin to secure the Championship with two races to go
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed his second MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title with two races to spare after a perfect performance in Race 1 on home soil at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto. The now double WorldSBK Champion became the first rider to retain the title for Ducati since Carl Fogarty won in 1998 and 1999 with his victory at the Prometeon Spanish Round, fending off an early challenge from Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) to win the race.
HOW THE TITLE WAS ON: Bautista takes lights-to-flag victory
The #1 needed to score just two points to guarantee the title, or he won it if the 2021 Champion didn’t win the race, but he took the maximum 25 points available to ensure his celebrations could start before the final day of the season. His victory moved him onto 591 points – now only 10 behind his 2022 tally – while the #54 sits 65 points back and guaranteed to finish second in the standings, behind Bautista and ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in third; the Titanic Trio completing the top three in the standings.
Bautista took pole position in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session ahead of Swiss rookie Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), with the Spaniard leaving it late to claim his 29th podium of the season. This gave him the perfect platform to win Race 1, leading every lap despite his rival’s pressure in the first half of the race. At that point, the #1 was able to build a gap of around four seconds although his winning margin was just over a second after he backed off on the final lap.
AVOIDING TITLE THOUGHTS: “I wanted to stay free and just enjoy it…”
Discussing his thought process heading into Race 1, and now the title is secured, Bautista said: “To do it here at Jerez was very, very special. Many people said, ‘you only need two points, keep calm’. I said, ‘I don’t think about the points or the results or the Championship’. I wanted to stay free and just enjoy it. Maybe, if you’re thinking about that kind of target which can be easy to do, it’s worse because then you relax and you lose your focus, lose your performance. I preferred to just forget about everything and try to focus on myself, enjoy my riding. I felt so good from the beginning, and I could keep my pace. In the last laps, I started to think about the Championship more but that’s normal! Now I can be more relaxed especially from the outside, especially because a lot of people put a lot of pressure on me.”
CELEBRATING ON HOME SOIL: the first time he’s won World Championship in Spain
Bautista was able to celebrate in front of his home fans, after winning his previous two titles in flyaway races. He took the 125cc World Championship in Australia and won last year’s WorldSBK title in Indonesia. With Jerez the season finale for 2023, the Bautista’s transformation from red to gold took place in front of his fans’ club, while he also celebrated across the line making a heart symbol for his daughters. It meant he became
Speaking as a two-time WorldSBK Champion, Bautista spoke about his emotions and being able to celebrate on home soil. He said: “I feel so happy! Now I’m starting to realise what we have achieved. I’m really happy and so proud of my team and people, because we had an incredible year. We won a lot of races, our performance in almost all situations was good. The best way to end the season is to defend the title. My two previous titles were won in Australia and Indonesia, so a bit far from home. It's okay, you enjoy it with your team and friends there but it’s not the same as celebrating with your family, real friends, with your team and all the fans. It’s like a dream come true! It’s not easy to win a title at home. I’m so happy to win, but so happy to have the chance to celebrate with everyone!”
AN INCREDIBLE ACHIEVEMENT: matching Carl Fogarty’s feat from the ‘90s
Bautista’s second title moves him into an exclusive club. Only five riders have won back-to-back titles in WorldSBK: Fred Merkel (1988-1989), Doug Polen (1991-1992), Carl Fogarty (1994-1995 and 1998-1999) and Jonathan Rea (2015-2020) have won consecutive titles, while others have won multiple titles but not in a row. He’s also the first Ducati rider to win the title using the #1 since ‘Foggy’ in 1999.
Congratulate Bautista on his success using the hashtag #TheDefence and watch the final day of 2023 using the WorldSBK VideoPass – only €9.99!