After wrapping up his second title, Alvaro Bautista will head to Malaysia for his first MotoGP™ appearance since 2018
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is over for 2023, but one rider has ensured he’ll be busy for another couple of weeks. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will head from Spain to Malaysia to take part in this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix as a wildcard. It’ll be the #1’s first time racing in MotoGP™ since 2018 and, ahead of his return, Aruba.it Racing – Ducati’s Team Principal, Stefano Cecconi, previewed the event.
Sepang will not be the first time the double WorldSBK Champion has got onboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP having tested it on a few occasions this year. The first came at Misano back in June and he set a best time from the test of a 1’32.590s, showing impressive pace despite not going for a time attack for his first appearance back on MotoGP™ machinery. Another test followed later in the year as he was a late call-up for test rider Michele Pirro, who was injured, with the Spaniard testing 2024 parts for the Bologna-based manufacturer.
However, for Bautista, the preparation is over, and the Grand Prix is just around the corner. For his first race in five years in the Championship, expectations will be limited but every rider would be looking to do a good job. Speaking at the season-ending Spanish Round, Cecconi looked ahead to the wildcard as he expressed how he thought the #1 was feeling ahead of the race as well as answering a question about his expectations.
Cecconi said: “It’s hard to say because Alvaro is not going there just to be on the grid. He did the test and enjoyed it; it was a prize test. He did a second one by chance. I think, in his heart, he’s started to think big. Of course, you cannot aim for the win in just one event. I don’t see him going there just to have some fun. I think he’s expecting to be strong on that track, especially if it’ll be hot. With no pressure because the Championship is over here, so he can enjoy the wildcard without caring about his own Championship. It’ll be fun, I think.”
The Malaysian Grand Prix takes place next week at Sepang, with action starting on Friday with Free Practice 1 at 10:45 Local Time (GMT+8) before Practice at 15:00. On Saturday, it’s an action-packed day with Free Practice 2 before jumping straight into qualifying from 10:50. The Tissot Sprint is at 15:00 and then, on Sunday, the Grand Prix is at 15:00 once again.
Follow coverage of Bautista’s wildcard appearance from Malaysia using the WorldSBK VideoPass!