FIRST THOUGHTS: emotional Bautista reacts to his 2022 title success, praises rivals Razgatlioglu and Rea

Sunday, 13 November 2022 07:41 GMT

The newly crowned Champion gave an emotional interview immediately after claiming his first WorldSBK title

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) was crowned the 2022 Champion in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship after a dramatic Race 2 at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit during the Pirelli Indonesian Round. He fought for victory against Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) in the 21-lap race and, while he was unable to prevent a Razgatlioglu hat-trick, he finished second to claim his first WorldSBK title with a round to spare.

After joining WorldSBK and Ducati in 2019, Bautista took the Championship by storm with 11 consecutive wins, but his season unraveled as it progressed with the Spanish rider finishing the Championship in second place, before he departed for Honda. Two years at Team HRC proved challenging for Bautista as he took just three podiums before he returned to the Bologna-based manufacturer for the 2022 season.

Bautista’s return proved to be successful from the off as he won at all but two circuits throughout the season, including Mandalika, but a total of 29 podiums from 33 races, including 14 wins, allowed the Spaniard to claim the title with a round to spare; with Bautista leaving Indonesia with 553 points compared to Razgatlioglu’s 487. For most of the season, it was a three-way fight for the title involving Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) but Bautista was able to fend both of them off to take the 2022 title.

Giving his first thoughts in parc ferme after being crowned World Champion, Bautista said: “It’s incredible, I’m so happy. It’s a dream come true, especially after the last two years and all the difficulties. I want to say thanks to everyone who trusted me, to give me this chance to fight for good places and we got the Championship at the first time of trying. Today was the first time I felt a bit nervous or stressed, but it was in Race 2 on the grid before the start. I tried to manage the emotions and when I was in first, I was making a lot of mistakes because I had too many thoughts in my head! I just preferred to stay second behind Toprak, but he was very strong, so I could just follow him. So happy.”

He later paid tribute to his rivals, saying: “It’s difficult to know what to say. I’m just so happy. During the whole season, I was so happy because I had a lot of experience from the past. I tried to be the best possible rider, not make mistakes. I think our performance has been really, really high. I think I had the best performance level ever from Toprak and Jonathan. They performed at a really high level in all races. I was lucky that I made fewer mistakes than them. What’s important is also consistency. I could beat Jonathan, a six-time World Champion and Toprak, a one-time Champion, breaking all the records at all the tracks which means the level is so high. We can win with this amazing level.”

Crew Chief Giulio Nava was also emotional after helping Bautista to the title. He said: “We worked really hard for this; this team and Ducati. I’ve been working with Alvaro for many years and I’m super happy to be here with him, seeing him achieving these results. It means a lot. I’m very lucky to work with him. You create very a strong relationship together. We joke together. Alvaro is like my brother. It’s difficult for me to explain what it means, but it means the world to see him winning.”

Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager, added: “It is a wonderful day for us. We worked a lot with Alvaro in the past and in 2019 we did a fantastic job until the middle of the season. In the end, we could not win the crown. Today, in the end, and it was a fantastic emotion. It was a special day. This is probably one of the best seasons of his life. This year, and 2006, were two really amazing seasons for him. He won the 2006 125cc World Championship and today he won WorldSBK. He’s a real fantastic rider and I’m really, really happy he could get the title today.”

Congratulate Bautista on his title success on social media with #TheReturn, and watch the Australian Round using the WorldSBK VideoPass!