As far as Alvaro Bautista clearing off to win all the opening WorldSBK races, 2022 is not like his first Ducati Panigale V4R season in 2019.
So in his own opinion, what has changed most since he had two almost fruitless years on a Honda? Are the others just faster?
“Yeah, for sure,” he told bikesportnews.com. “I think the manufacturers made a step forward. Also Ducati, maybe maximum performance is similar, but at the least it’s a more balanced bike, more equal. So, more easy to have this performance in all kind of conditions.
'It’s not like three years ago that was super fast and then super problems. Now it’s more fast, but also consistent. At the end, the other manufacturers improve.”
Hardware is one thing, human intervention is quite another. “Also, Toprak three years ago was coming stronger and stronger and now he is one of the best riders of the category. Jonathan is always strong. He knows very well the bike.
It’s good because everything is closer. It’s fine, because now at least we are three riders fighting for victory. Three years ago we were only two, and many races I just escape and Jonathan just has to finish the race to just lose five points. But now, if he wants to don’t lose five points, he has to push because there are other riders to push him. So, I think it’s much better now.”
Evidence of Toprak’s advance is obvious enough, with a World Championship under his belt and a number one plate to go with his factory Yamaha. He can even qualify well now, as Bautista and all knew too well at Assen. The Turkish phenomenon was almost half a second faster than the rest.
“First of all, a super lap in Superpole from Toprak - it was amazing. I don't know how he can do it. I was so surprised. For me, in Aragon with the SCQ tyre, was like I can use on the performance, but here every time I try to force, I don’t feel the same feeling as Aragon.
"I don't know if track conditions or something, but even on the braking it was difficult for me to stop the bike with the SCQ tires. I cannot use all the performance that I did in Aragon.”