With Ducati's Alvaro Bautista looking like he has enough of a lead over WorldSBK rivals Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea to be considered the clear favourite despite there still being three rounds left to run, there has been talk already about team orders.
Or, more accurately, overall Ducati orders. It has, after all, been a suject of more than discussion in the MotoGP camp.
Michael Rinaldi is Bautista’s true team-mate, but privateer Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) has shown podium prowess in 2022, and he looks like a young man on a mission to win his first WorldSBK race, no matter who is around him, or what’s going on.
Especially now that Bassani has not been signed to the official Aruba team for 2023 after all, maybe he has even more to prove? He feels he has the bike under him to challenge already, and he says the difference in results so far is really down to Bautista.
“My bike is a really, really good bike,” affirmed Bassani at Portimao. “Alvaro is a good rider. This year he is there. He is the first rider on the championship. He’s different. He uses really good the power of Ducati. It’s perfect for him.”
But that said, Bautista did not seem to keen on the prospct of team orders as we sit on the verge of a new WorldSBK weekend in Argentina.
“I want to make my best race,” said Bassani. “I don’t want to help the other riders because if I’m forced on the championship, I don’t want the other riders help me.
"Because if I’m the best rider, I will win the championship. So for me, it’s this. But I want to make my best race and arrive in front of all the guys. This is a race for me.”
Bautista is also not looking for any help right now, but he also knows that every point counts despite his 56 point lead over Toprak Razgatlioglu and his really impresive 82 points lead over Rea.
He said at Portimao of the prospect of help from Bassani, if needed. “I think he doesn’t care about team orders,” said Bautista. “In any case we don’t speak with him about team orders. Even with Michael, we didn’t speak with him. To Michael it’s easy because we say, try to don’t make risk between both.
"If you can win, okay. No problem. But, with Bassani it’s more difficult to say this. I think he’s very young and he wants to show his potential. He wants to win. He wants to make a name here. So for me, it’s normal what we are doing.”
The question on the eve of the Argentinian round is, will any of them change if it needs to to help Bautista get the big job done? In a few days we’ll find out...