Alvaro Bautista has paid tribute to Toprak Razgatlioglu after officially completing his second WorldSBK Championship title victory on home soil at the Jerez season finale.
The Spaniard romped to a record-breaking 26th victory of the season in the first of this weekend’s three races to formally put this year’s title out of Razgatlioglu’s reach, the Turk having gamely taken the fight down to the wire in Jerez.
Indeed, while few were counting out Bautista in the context of the title battle with just two points needed from any one of the final three races this weekend, the ex-MotoGP rider admitted to feeling the pressure regardless.
“Now, I feel so happy because after the race you are thinking about the race but now I start to relax. I am really happy, so proud of my team and my people because we won many races, we performed well in almost every situation.
“The best way to end the season is to defend the title and to do it here is really special. Many people say ‘you only need two points, keep calm’, but I say I won’t think about it, the result, the championship, I just wanted to enjoy it.
“If you think of that target and that it is easy, then it is worse and you lose your focus and performance, so I prefer to just forget about it and try to win for myself.
“In the last laps I started to think about the championship, but now I can relax, on the outside because there was a lot of pressure.”
While Bautista was never headed in the fight for this year’s title and the gulf of victories between himself and Razgatlioglu stood at an extraordinary 25 to just seven coming into the weekend, the Turk’s greater consistency during the second-half of the year kept him in contention.
It is a performance that Bautista was quick to praise, singling the Pata Yamaha rider out for maintaining the pressure despite the gulf in silverware between them this year.
“At the end, we are fighting for victories and championships but we respect each other, so for me he is an incredible rider. This season Toprak had some incredible performances, I won lots of races but he stayed there.
“His performances were amazing and I congratulate him because he never gave up. It is difficult to attack every race having a rival like him because you lose five points here and there, an amazing season, an amazing battle with him.”