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Injury, new weight rules or all in hand… What’s happening with WorldSBK champ Bautista?

Gold & Goose

Four days of well attended WorldSBK pre-season testing has thrown up some interesting headlines, chief among them the lacklustre performance of twice defending champion Alvaro Bautista.

The Spaniard, a runaway winner of the title in 2022 and 2023 - achieving a record 27 wins in the latter season - maintained a unexpectedly low profile during the two tests at Jerez and Portimao.

After ending the Jerez test - scene of his 2023 title win - in a lowly 16th fastest, he could only manage 15th best at Portimao, some 1.2secs adrift of pace setters Toprak Razgatlioglu and his new Aruba.it Ducati team-mate Nicolo Bulega.


The Jerez test had been Bautista’s first track activity since he participated in a MotoGP wild-card with Ducati in Malaysia in November. On that occasion he complained of suffering with heat exhaustion, but Bautista has since revealed it is a neck injury sustained in post-season WorldSBK testing prior to that which has laid him low.

#1 for a reason

It’s an injury he says he is still struggling with, admitting to some concern about his physical fitness for the start of the season less than a month away.

“Basically, I can say that it has been better than Jerez but not enough,” he said. “On Day 1, I felt a lot of improvement from Jerez about my physical condition, but on Tuesday, I felt a bit worse than Monday. 

“Maybe this track is more demanding. It’s not too painful but it’s always there and it’s not easy. 

“I don’t have confidence, but I have confidence. I’ll try to work as hard as possible at home, I think this is the only way. It doesn’t matter about confidence. 

“If we work hard, it’s the only way we can arrive in better condition. Let’s see. I have to go day by day and then, when we arrive in Australia, I will see what my physical condition is like, and we’ll try to do our best.”

Catch me if you can...

Are the new weight parity rules affecting Bautista?

This year sees WorldSBK introduce a new weight parity system designed to help lankier, heavier riders like Razgatlioglu, Scott Redding and Michael van der Mark more competitive with lighter, more compact rivals such as Bautista.


It’s a system that hasn’t been trialled in race conditions, though based on the data from speed traps, Bautista does appear to still hold a slight advantage over most competition on the Ducati.

Instead, the Spaniard speculates that issues with setting his Panigale V4 R up at Portimao have contributed to his indifferent pace.

“Also, we worked with the bike, and I think we took the setup that wasn’t the best because, at the end of the day, we saw the way we started on from Day 1, maybe I’m not 100% and I cannot push to the limit. 

“Maybe that way wasn’t correct, but we realised at the end of the day. I’m not 100% but I think we miss something on the bike setup. A difficult two days, but now we have some time to think about the setup of the bike and try to recover a bit more for Australia.”

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