WSB: Alvaro Bautista extends contract with Ducati for 2023 season
Alvaro Bautista has signed a new contract with the Aruba.it Racing Ducati team for the 2023 World Superbike Championship season.
The Spaniard leads the championship after the opening four rounds, currently holding a 36-point lead over Jonathan Rea. Bautista has won six races in 2022, and has only been off the podium in one of the 12 races so far.
Bautista re-joined Ducati for the 2022 season after initially signing with the Italian manufacturer in 2019 after his departure from MotoGP. Remarkably, Bautista won the opening 11 races – the Superpole race at Assen was cancelled.
Bautista looked set for secure the title in his maiden WSB campaign, however a tough second half of the season saw his season collapse. Jonathan Rea overturned a 64-point deficit to win his fifth title by 165 points.
Ducati and Bautista went their separate ways as a result, with Bautista spending the next two seasons with Honda (Team HRC) onboard the all-new Fireblade. Only three podiums followed, with a best of ninth overall in the championship.
“I am very happy to be able to continue at least one more year with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team, which represents a family to me,” Bautista said. “I have always felt good with this team and since I have returned, the feelings have been even more positive than in the 2019 season.
“When something works so well, we can only keep working, looking ahead. I feel I am still at the top and I feel I can still give a lot. Physically and mentally, I think this is the best time of my career. I am also delighted to continue working with Ducati, a very important factory, tech-oriented, always looking for development: to be part of this project, of this team is something incredible on a personal level.”
Before moving to WSB, Bautista spent 17 seasons in the Grand Prix paddock. He became 125cc World Champion in 2006, before finishing second overall to the late Marco Simoncelli in the 2008 250cc season.
Bautista joined Suzuki in MotoGP two years’ later, before switching to Gresini Racing Honda in 2012. That year, Bautista finished on the podium on two occasions – third at Misano and Motegi. He also finished third at Le Mans in 2014. He ended his time in MotoGP with the Pull & Bear Aspar squad, securing a best result of fourth in Argentina (2017) and Phillip Island (2018).
“I have always believed in Alvaro from a sporting point of view, and we have always had a very good personal relationship even when our paths temporarily parted,” Stefano Cecconi, Team Principal, added. “When we decided to bet on him again last summer, some people called this move a very risky gamble, but there was a conviction on both sides that we were making the right choice: results so far confirm our decision and make us happy. This is also the reason why we are glad to continue our relationship with Alvaro for at least another year.
“Today we want to make a small exception to the rule, and we toast his renewal; already from tomorrow, we are going back to work to prepare ourselves in the best possible way for the next races. The season is still long, and we know very well that we cannot afford to let our guard down.”
The next round of the 2022 WSB season takes place at Donington Park on July 15-17.