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“Bulega success good motivation” - Bautista sizes up foe from within as defence starts with crash

Gold & Goose

Alvaro Bautista says seeing Aruba.it Racing Ducati team0-mate Nicolo Bulega score a major victory on his WorldSBK debut at Phillip Island will act as ‘good motivation’ for him after his own WorldSBK title defender started with a costly crash.

The Spaniard could only manage a single point for 15th after being forced to remount when he crashed on his own at MG while trying to make up positions in the early stages of Race 1 in Australia.

Bautista - who comes into the 2024 WorldSBK season on the back of a record-breaking campaign that yielded 27 wins - briefly looked capable of bouncing back to a strong finish after only qualifying ninth when he surged up the order to briefly nose into second at the start.


However, after a pre-season hampered by injury woes and misgivings about WorldSBK’s new weight regulations, Bautista struggled to maintain his composure and was already being shuffled down the order when contact with Sam Lowes sent him wide at Lukey Heights on lap three and back to the bottom end of the top ten.

He’d then come down on lap four while trying to pass Axel Bassani, Bautista nonetheless getting back going - despite bent handlebars - and soldiering back to 15th place.

“It was not the start of the season I expected, but it happens. I did a really good start from the third row, I got into second position,” he said.

“I think I had a bit more to keep with the pace but at the same time I decided to stay there but it was crazy because there were a lot of riders in the group touching and on the third lap Sam Lowes touched me and took me out wide and I lost a lot of positions. 

“When I tried to recover some places I crashed at Turn 10. I tried to continue the race, the handlebars were a bit bent so it was difficult but I tried to finish and get more confidence on the bike.

“In the morning I had a good feeling with the pace and I was quite confident we could have a good race. Fighting for the podium today was possible, but I crashed so it doesn’t matter what was possible or not.”

Reflecting on the success of Bulega after the Italian scored a win from pole position on his WorldSBK debut to emulate his team-mate’s similar feat with the same team back in 2019, Bautista preferred to point out that his own achievement was made without knowledge of the series coming from MotoGP.

“When I won in 2019, it was a real rookie race because I didn’t know the tyres, the championship, this bike. At least he won last year with Pirelli and he knows Ducati, the concept of the bike is very similar. 


“It is not easy though to win with a lot of riders to win the race, so congratulations to him, it is good to have him as a team-mate because it is good motivation.

“I think it's good what is happening to the championship, the level is going up and I am happy to be part of it. More and more riders, more competition, faster, everything is more difficult, it is good motivation to keep working and keep up and be the best rider possible.”

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