From winning with ease to perfect homecomings, an emotional tribute and a fightback from injury – Alvaro Bautista had his fair share of highlights in his rookie season, but can we see them again?
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is now into the second half of the season but there’s already been huge movements on the 2022 grid. Following the news that Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) will leave Honda after two years to return to the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team, it is time to look back at the sheer level of his achievements when he came into the Championship with the squad back in 2019. 16 wins and 24 podiums, what were the ultimate highlights of his rookie year?
It’s not a secret that Alvaro Bautista had historically been a lover of Phillip Island in his MotoGP™ career, but nobody could have anticipated just how much he would demolish the rest of the field. His debut in WorldSBK is arguably the most spectacular ever seen, as he hit the front by Turn 3 on Lap 1 and by the end of the second lap of the 2019 season, was leading by over a second. He’d eventually win by a staggering 14.983s, the first of 11 straight wins.
After the Race 1 rout, it was a closer affair in the Tissot Superpole Race, as Bautista went head-to-head with Jonathan Rea. Whilst Bautista would use the straight-line speed of the Ducati Panigale V4 R – also in its first racing weekend in WorldSBK – it would be Jonathan Rea who would make up ground in the braking areas. The battle raged until the penultimate lap, when the rookie was able to extend his lead to over half a second before ultimately, taking a second win in just his second race.
After completing two triples at Phillip Island in Australia and the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, it was time for ‘the boy from Talavera de la Reina’ to head to MotorLand Aragon, where the domination continued. A win in Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race meant that he was now on for another hat-trick, and he delivered in style. Taking a ninth straight win, it was a home-round to remember, whilst Bautista also gave Ducati an iconic 350th WorldSBK race win.
After Jonathan Rea won the last 11 races of the 2018 season, we were about to witness the two longest winning streaks in WorldSBK history in extraordinary back-to-back fashion. With the Tissot Superpole Race at Assen cancelled to make way for rescheduled Race 1 (called off on Saturday due to snow), Race 2 acted as the 11th race of 2019, which saw Bautista battle to the front. He took the win, the last of his stunning streak, matching Rea’s from 2018.
The Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto welcomed WorldSBK in the June of 2019 and after not winning at Imola, Alvaro Bautista was keen to win again. He took Race 1 with ease, but it was the Tissot Superpole Race where he would take a 13th win of his career, celebrated with a moving tribute to Angel Nieto, with a ‘12+1’ flag – a nod to Nieto’s total number of titles. To-date, it is Bautista’s last win on home territory.
A score-less Laguna Seca round left Bautista damaged in the standings but also with an injured shoulder, after clashing with Toprak Razgatlioglu at Turn 2 at the American venue. After more than a month off, action returned to Portimao and despite not featuring too prominently in Race 1 and the Superpole Race, Bautista gritted his teeth and dug deep in Race 2, battling through the pain barrier to just hold on in a tense final lap, winning again – this time, the closest finish of the 2019 season.
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