Alvaro Bautista heads into the final two rounds of the 2023 WorldSBK Championship positive he can stay focused and complete his quest for a second consecutive title after turning around his Aragon WorldSBK weekend with a return to the top step of the podium.
The Spaniard steadied his nerves with two confidence-boosting Sunday victories on the Aruba Ducati after throwing away a potential win in Saturday’s Race 1 with a clumsy crash out of the lead.
It was the latest blot on a copybook that barely had a blemish by the half-way point in the season, only for bungled races at Imola, Most, Magny-Cours and then Aragon conspire to whittle his once massive 99 point lead over Toprak Razgatlioglu down to just 37 points.
However, Bautista struck back convincingly on Sunday, particularly in the Superpole Race as he gritted his teeth in the closing stages to pull off two final lap passes on Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea - the latter coming into the last corner - to claim victory.
He proceeded to then reel off a 21st win of the season with a more customary dominant display from almost lights-to-flag in Race 2.
It means Bautista heads into next weekend’s Portimao WorldSBK with a good chance of sealing the title a round early, provided he out-scores Razgatlioglu by 15 points by the end of the weekend.
“I’m so happy, especially because today I compensated for Race 1 and we started from zero, from the feeling I have with the bike.
“In the warm-up I felt good again, in the Superpole Race, it was amazing because we had a really good race. I felt good because the pace was fast and at the end I managed to overtake them on the last lap.
“In that moment I felt maybe I can fight for the win, so I tried and without thinking no more, just to do it.”
“Two very different races, but we were very competitive and [could] fight for victory. Not an easy weekend, but we have to keep fighting, keep working because we cannot make more mistakes. The thing we have to do is not make mistakes.”
After a run of mistakes during his rookie 2019 WorldSBK season scuppered his hopes of a title challenge, Bautista says he is trying hard not to dwell on his recent issues and simply focus on the job at hand.
“I don’t think about the points or the championship, I just try to do my best and win. For sure, this weekend has been very important for me because I learned that even if a track suits me and the bike, you cannot be 100% confident, you have to always worry because in the races anything is possible.
“I made a mistake in Race 1 and I think we need more humility, so I will try to keep focused and to be relaxed, without thinking about if we can win or not.”