On a learning curve, Bautista aims big in 2020
Rider’s title in superbikes eluded the Spaniard this season, but he has shown he’ll be a serious contender in 2020.
The 2019 Superbike season was a case of so near yet so far for Spaniard Alvaro Bautista. He lost the rider’s World Championship to British rider Jonathan Rea in September with two rounds remaining. That was despite him winning 16 out of the 33 races in the season.
Podium finishes for the Spaniard in other races could have changed the season’s outcome. But he had just three second-place finishes compared to his rival’s 16 and it proved costly. Bolstered by 14 wins and those second-place finishes, Rea’s tally of 601 points was far superior to Bautista’s 460.
This could have caused heartbreak for many, but not for Bautista.
“I came into the season with nothing. It was my first time in Superbike. It was a new team and a new bike. Considering all that, finishing second is a great result,” said Bautista, who is in Doha for the season’s last race at the Losail International Circuit this weekend.
The rider, who competes for Aruba.IT Racing-Ducati, explained the situation: “Yes, there were some crashes, which by the way was not my fault and there were tracks which I was not familiar with, so I could not get onto the podium. Also, Superbike is not like MotoGP where you have just one race on a Sunday. Here, you have three races. All this was new to me, but even then I was able to come up with a few good wins,” he said.
Bautista may have been satisfied with his season’s show, but for those who have followed his career that started with a lot of promise, there are a lot of questions. He has just one 125cc rider’s championship title to show and not even one podium finish in MotoGP ever since he moved into it in 2010.
Can the switch to Superbike change that record?
“It’s another new team in 2020,” said Bautista, who will move to Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) next year.
“While I want to focus on the final race in Qatar, I also want to say that I would like to return here next year and hopefully be fighting for the World Championship unlike now,” he said.
But Rea will be around next year too and Bautista may not find the going easy. He hopes to tackle that by putting his experience from 2019 to good use.
“Firstly, this season, more than them winning, it was we who lost it. Rea is an experienced rider, he has been dominating for so long now and is familiar with the different tracks. I didn’t have a reference point as it was my first season. Next season will be different. Although it’s a new team, I’ve the experience and am more familiar with the tracks,” said Bautista.
It looks like there will be a keen contest between Rea and Bautista in 2020. And the Spaniard’s fans will be hoping that he can do justice to his talent with a title on the big stage.