The safest bet in WorldSBK in 2023 after four rounds is that Alvaro Bautista is the best place to invest your hard earned cash, because out of 12 spins of the racing dice so far, he has paid out 11 times from 12 WorldSBK throws.
He took home the distinctive four column trophies in all three races at Barcelona-Catalunya, and even made it look easier than usual.
Truth is he has to ride to the very edge of his MotoGP inspired machine’s capabilities to make it work better than the rest, even if he makes it look like a smooth and seamless operation.
For Bautista, winning in Spain, even a long way from his region of Spain, west of Madrid, was special. He even had his litle daughter on his knee in one of the press conferences, and naturally she behaved better than most of the journalists…
But on Sunday, with all three of the big jobs done, Bautista was naturally satisfied and relaxed.
“I’m really happy here,” he said. “This is maybe more special because I can celebrate with my family and with the Spanish fans. So, it’s even better.”
He, like everyione else that managed to finish wheels down in the dampish Superpole Race, was happy to get it out fo the way, and again he was a clear winner of that ten-lap speciality. Playing pathfinder, with all the rest doing their homework behind you, is never any fun.
“When it starts to rain, when you are leading and you saw some drops, you have to be very careful because the rider behind maybe has the reference and they know if he didn’t crash, we can enter more safe, or at least thinking less about how is the track conditions,|” confirmed Bautista.
“But leading the way, especially in these conditions that sometimes was raining more in the sector one, sometimes raining more in sector three, the track was not really wet, but it was like humid. So, it was very tricky. At that moment, I thought, ‘just finish the race. It doesn’t matter if the others can catch you and can pass you. Just finish the race and don’t make mistake."
It seems Bautista and his bike can win in any conditions now, so has the package of machine, man and team lifted the overall level now. Like he nearly did in 2019 and then finally did at the middle and end of last season. How has this been possible?
“It’s my feeling that the package – me, my bike, and my team – we have a really high level, really high level,” said Bautista. “So, I don't know if it’s our limit or we can improve. But the fact that this is my second year working with the same bike, basically with the team, it’s not the same when we arrived last year at one track that we can try this, this, this, this.
"This works, this does not… so at the end for Sunday we had more or less a base for that track (last season). Now from Friday FP1 we have the right base, and from there we didn’t touch almost nothing all the track. So, that means that we arrive to the races much more prepared than last season. I think this is the biggest difference compared in 2022.” And even more so, compared to 2019.
Asked about 2019 versus now, he said, “I feel that now I have everything more under control. So the domination that I did in 2019, especially the first part of the season, was incredible because the gap was like 15 seconds almost all the races. But without control. I just went fast, but it’s what I said. From the first lap it was like, I have to go one second faster in every lap. Not possible.
"Now it’s more under control. If I have to go this, this is the maximum, don’t over-pass the maximum. If you can go away, perfect. If you have to be there or to be fifth, it’s the maximum I can. So there in that time, I just want to extra win, and now I just want to do my best.”
So pushing too hard to win was the real mistake in 2019, as he has alluded to many times. “I think this was my mistake,” said Alvaro. “Then we have another mistake with the technical mistakes because the bike also was new and we tried many things that maybe we keep the wrong way.
"But I assumed that I did a mistake, like Ducati need more experience and they made some confusion, so altogether we lost the championship. But fortunately, now we are in another situation and we are working together and we are stronger than ever."
CLICK HERE to view the latest 2023 WorldSBK Championship standings after Round 4 of 12 [Catalunya WorldSBK]