Alvaro Bautista contested 61 races for Honda Racing Corporation in the Superbike World Championship; December 31 is his last day as a Honda employee. The 37-year-old had expected significantly more from the two years.
On January 1, 2022, a new phase begins in Alvaro Bautista’s career; the return to Ducati is a return to its roots in the Superbike World Championship. Because he celebrated the greatest successes with the Italian manufacturer in his debut year 2019: the Spaniard won 16 races, stood on the podium 24 times and was runner-up behind Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki).
Not only for financial reasons, he signed for 2020 and 2021 with the Honda Racing Corporation, responsible for all factory appearances of the motorcycle giant. For the first time in almost 20 years, with the CBR1000RR-R, the Japanese had again developed a bike that was tailored to the needs of the near-series championship. A promising concept was presented to Bautista that made him feel confident.
But it quickly became apparent: The first Triple-R in the company’s history has some weak points, and this Fireblade also clearly failed to meet the high expectations.
Bautista’s yield in two Honda years: three third places and world championship ranks 9 and 10. In the constructors’s championship in 2021, Honda was even last among five manufacturers.
“The time was harder than expected”, Alvaro puffed deeply in an interview with SPEEDWEEK.com. «I expected to be more competitive. Especially after my first year in the Superbike World Championship, when I was pretty fast and felt really good on the bike. At Honda I found a new bike, starting from scratch wasn’t easy. Not even to fight for the top spots. For the second year I expected great progress, but it didn’t come. We went more or less into the 2021 season, like we left off the previous year, without any major changes. “
The 37-year-old continues: “We worked a lot on the motorcycle. In the middle of the season, we decided that we would not make any major changes to the set-up and the framework. We tried a lot in the first few races, but we couldn’t find anything that made me faster or made me feel better. So we took the basic setup and tried to take small steps with the electronics and weight distribution. From then on we became more constant. “
“It was very tough,” said Bautista, summarizing his time with Honda. “At the same time, I learned a lot. I was fast in my first year in Superbike, so I didn’t care about every detail. For the past two years, I’ve had to take care of every detail, so I now know a lot better about the tires and about the class itself. I have more experience now and I feel like a better driver. Because I’ve always tried to get the most out of everything. Before that, I was fast, but I didn’t really know why. The Ducati was already well developed and easier to use. “
In 2022, the HRC team will join the two Spaniards Iker Lecuona (21) and Xavi Vierge (24).