Ducati has been waiting to win a motorcycle world championship since 2011, when Carlos Checa triumphed in the Superbikes. The target for Alvaro Bautista for 2022 is clear.
For years, Ducati dominated the Superbike World Championship, in some years the championship resembled a one-make cup. The manufacturer from Bologna has also been a protagonist in the past decade, but the title was last won in 2011 with Carlos Checa and the Althea team. Since then, Aprilia (2012, 2014), Kawasaki (2013, 2015-2020) and Yamaha (2021) have triumphed.
After two years at Honda, Ducati has brought back Spaniard Alvaro Bautista, who won the first eleven races of the 2019 season. Although he conceded 16 victories in total and 24 podium places, he was clearly beaten by Johnny Rea by 165 points after several falls, but he was still vice world champion.
2019 was the first season of the Ducati Panigale V4R, and a lot has been developed and improved over the past two years. That’s why everyone on the Aruba team feels Bautista can give 2022 a better bike than he had back then. The 37-year-old should finally bring the number 1 back to Bologna!
“In the past two difficult years, I’ve learned a lot and grown as a driver,” Bautista told SPEEDWEEK.com in a one-to-one conversation. “I’m stronger today. Still, I prefer not to expect anything. I will try to use all my experience and knowledge to ride as best as possible in all conditions. And I’ll try not to make mistakes like in 2019 that cost me the title.”
“The championship today is different than three years ago,” emphasized the evergreen. “More riders are fighting for the title and podiums, the level has gone up a bit. In 2019, three drivers fought for victories, now more are involved. So it will be more difficult, but at the same time I have more experience. The important thing is that I can enjoy motorcycling. If that’s the case and I can ride the way I want, then my performance will be right.”
Many fans and experts expect world champion Toprak Razgatlioglu, Rea and you in the top 3. Will it come down to this or will others get involved?
“Winning a championship is different than winning races or getting on the podium,” emphasized Bautista. “There are many races in a season, you have to face different conditions. And you also need luck. Locatelli adapted very well to the class last season, you can count him among the three when it comes to the title. Rinaldi is also young and very competitive, I believe he can win a few. I can’t say what the Honda riders will show, they are new to this category. Maybe they’re a surprise, they’re fast from the start and they can fight up front like I did three years ago. When we talk about the world title, there aren’t many names that come up – I want to be one of them. But first we have to prepare well. It’s also important to start the season well. The first third is the key to a successful rest of the season.”