Reigning Champion Alvaro Bautista explains why he opted for the #1 plate in 2023…
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) unveiled the #1 plate on his Ducati Panigale V4 R that he will look to defend his MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title on in 2023 and also explained the reasons why he opted to switch from his traditional #19 as well as the event in Italy. Ducati became the second WorldSBK team to take the covers off their 2023 challenger with the event in the Italian Alps as they look to defend their titles from 2022.
Not since 2005 has the #1 plate been sported on a Ducati WorldSBK machine when James Toseland attempted to defend his title with it after claiming the 2004 crown. 18 years on from then, Bautista will be looking to become a back-to-back WorldSBK Champion with the #1 on his machine. The Spaniard discussed why he opted to switch from his #19 plate, which he has used throughout his career, to the #1 for 2023.
The event took place in the Italian Alps, in the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort, which gave a stunning location for the team’s launch. Taking place alongside the Ducati factory MotoGP™, the special presentation unveiled machines for both the WorldSBK and MotoGP™ campaigns as Ducati looks to defend all six titles in total they won in 2022 across both Championships; the Bologna-based manufacturer taking home the Teams’, Riders’ and Manufacturers’ titles in both WorldSBK and MotoGP™.
He said: “I chose the #1 for 2023 because it’s like a personal challenge. When you have the #1 on the bike, the only result is to win. It’s a good motivation. I feel quite strong to defend the #1 on the bike and, in the end, my baby and I arrived at the same decision. We chose the #1 for this season. I’m so proud to have this number on my bike. It’s true my memories, when I watched WorldSBK in the past, were the Ducati with #1. My first memory watching a Ducati is the Ducati with the #1 and I’m so proud to have this number. I don’t think it’s more pressure, but more motivation. It’s amazing to be here at the Ducati presentation because we shared it with the MotoGP™ team, so it’s very special. It means that it’s very important for Ducati so I’m very proud to be here today.”
Bautista also spoke at length about the level of WorldSBK as he looks to defend his title. The 2022 season was defined by the ‘Titanic Trio’ battling out in front with incredible races, last-lap deciders and hard fighting between all three, with Bautista able to come out on top ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) by wrapping up the title in Indonesia.
Discussing what to expect in 2023, Bautista said: “I think the Championship is growing a lot. Not only for the level of the category, which is increasing a lot during the past years; we are beating all the records at all the tracks, but also in the quality of the riders. Many riders are coming from MotoGP™ are here. This year, we will have new riders. The World Champion in WorldSSP is coming, the runner-up is coming, so I think the level of the riders is growing. It’s one of the best moments of this Championship. I feel part of this revolution of the Championship. Every year will be more and more difficult, so we have to be very focused and concentrated. We have to keep working, keep this focus and try to improve because, otherwise, we cannot fight for the top.”
Get set for 2023 by looking back on Bautista’s incredible title success from 2022 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!