Bautista in 2022: Unchained, victorious and Championship leader

Sunday, 10 April 2022 14:08 GMT

The Spanish rider has confirmed the high expectations from preseason with two wins and three podiums from the opening round

The return of Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) to the Italian manufacturer’s factory team has instantly translated into Bautista regaining his status as a protagonist in the hierarchy of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Riding a competitive Panigale V4 R which he feels comfortable with, the Spanish rider emerged from the Pirelli Aragon Round as the Championship leader after two victories at MotorLand Aragon.

After his epic duel with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in Race 1 on Saturday, which the Ulsterman won by just 0.090s, the man from Toledo dominated the Tissot Superpole Race that opened the day with a margin of more than five seconds over the six-time World Champion. In Race 2, which brought the Aragon Round to a conclusion, Bautista once again proved his and the bike’s potential as he won by more than four seconds over Rea. The results, with Rea’s win in Race 1 and two second-place finishes on Sunday, means Bautista has a slender three-point advantage over Rea in the Championship standings.

Bautista, who had been waiting for a victory since winning at San Juan in 2019, did not hide his joy at the results achieved at the start of the season. After finishing the Aragon Round with two wins and three podiums, Bautista said: “It’s the best way to start the Championship! I enjoyed this weekend a lot with all the fans. I’m so happy to celebrate this start to the season with them. I don’t have words to describe my feeling on the bike. I’m in love with this bike and I enjoyed riding it.”

Assessing his first two victories since rejoining Ducati, Bautista said: “In the morning, I felt quite good with the bike in Warm Up, so I said, ‘let’s try to do my best in the Superpole Race this time’. I started well, I got the lead at the beginning and just kept my pace. I was quite fast but also quite consistent during the whole race. In the afternoon, it was a different story because the track condition was very different from all the times, we rode at this track in test days and also this weekend, because it was much warmer. For me, it was important to understand the limit of the track was and a few laps behind Jonathan, I understood how much I could push. I took the lead and tried to push until the limit of the track. I kept consistent and I could win again. I’m so happy to win again, not just for the result but also for my feeling with the bike.”

The duels of Bautista and Rea have reignited the rivalry between the two riders, which first came to the fore following the Spanish rider’s switch to WorldSBK in 2019 with Ducati. They are currently the top two riders in the Championship with reigning Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) in third, 18 points behind the Spanish rider. It means Bautista leads the Championship for the first time since Misano 2019, 1022 days ago.

WorldSBK hits Assen next and you can follow all the action from WorldSBK in 2022 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!