What to expect from Alvaro Bautista’s 2nd stint in Ducati WorldSBK | Superbikes of the world
Alvaro Bautista will make a much anticipated return to Ducati in 2022 after competing for the HRC team in the last two WorldSBK seasons.
Bautista, who joined WorldSBK from MotoGP in 2019, is already back aboard a Panigale V4 R thanks to a two-day private test drive in Jerez a few weeks ago.
Since joining Honda in 2020, Bautista has not won – as well as Honda, it must be added – while it is fair to say that the Spaniard has also made too many mistakes.
Bautista was often one of the fastest runners towards the latter part of the races, and although that was an advantage on tracks such as Catalunya, Jerez and Portimao where he racked up two podiums and five top five largely due to late overtaking, it was also its downfall in other places.
The ex-Honda man suffered most of his crashes going over the limit as we saw during the season opener in Aragon – he crashed moments after taking the P4 on the last lap , while Misano and Assen were other examples.
Although Honda made their comeback as a full-fledged factory team in 2020 and therefore needed time to compete with Yamaha, Kawasaki and Ducati, Bautista was still surprised at the difficulties he faced given his exceptional start to life as a WorldSBK rider with Ducati.
“It was a lot harder than expected. When I got here I expected to be more competitive, especially after my first year in WorldSBK, as I was pretty quick,” Bautista said after the last round of the month. latest.
âI felt good with the bike. But here I found completely new bikes and starting from scratch was not easy. It was not easy to fight for the top spots.
âThis second year maybe I expected a big improvement but it didn’t happen. Again we started the season more or less like last year so no big changes and we worked a lot on the bike. “
When we analyze Bautista’s return to Ducati and what to expect, the 2019 season is obviously the starting point.
Bautista, who won the first 11 consecutive races, was on course for one of the most dominant championship wins the series has ever seen.
Bautista was in a league of their own for most of those wins, with six-time world champion Jonathan Rea forced to accept second place.
However, things started to change around Jerez – specifically the last race of three. After winning races one and two, Bautista suffered a crash on the first turn while leading.
This was without a doubt one of the defining moments of the season as Bautista started to lose his way as further crashes at Misano, Donington Park and Laguna Seca put Rea ahead.
Although Bautista had a few more victories in Portimao and San Juan at the end of the year, the former MotoGP rider was not the same rider, although injuries also played a role.
Bautista replaces Scott Redding who was one of the stars of 2021 next year, which means these are big shoes to fill in for Bautista who will lead the team alongside Michael Rinaldi.
There is no doubt that Bautista may be a race winner again for Ducati, but to challenge current world champion Toprak Razgatlioglu and Rea will require adding consistency to the Spaniard’s repertoire next year, this which he hasn’t shown in his three years in WorldSBK.
Qualifying is also an area where Bautista will need to improve in the future as he has failed to make a top ten finish in seven of the 13 rounds this season.
But with all that said, Bautista and Ducati are likely to be a force when it comes to race wins at the very least, especially since the Bologna-based manufacturer has arguably the best overall package in WorldSBK.