He's the star of the moment in the Superbike paddock. After his performance during the Phillip Island tests, Alvaro Bautista has won over the Ducati fans. Saturday afternoon, when it'll be 5am Italian time, he'll be giving way to the start of the World Championship reserved for the derivatives. You can feel the excitement but, at the same time, everyone is fully aware of what his mission is.
"Now that I'm starting my adventure in the World Championship with Ducati, I can say I'm almost Italian," Alvaro said, jokingly. "I'm very happy about this experience, but also because of the affection I get from my Spanish fans and, of course, my Italian ones. I hope I'll please all of them. I can assure each and every one that I'll give it my all."
When the team was presented, Dall'Igna said that you didn't want to race in the SBK.
"It's not that I didn't want to race in the Superbike. The fact is that my entire career evolved in the MotoGP paddock and, as a result, that was considered my home. Gigi had already called me when he was working in Aprilia. He wanted me to take the leap. In the end, I did it, but a few years late. Maybe before wasn't the right time. Now it is."
What struck you about the SBK paddock compared to the MotoGP paddock?
"Maybe it's true that there are fewer people here, but I sense a more homey atmosphere. In the World Championship, I see a lot more business. Here, in SBK, the mood is calm and peaceful."
Everyone is wondering why Alvaro Bautista is so strong with the Ducati V4.
"I always try to do my best. The V4 is a motorcycle that derives from the MotoGP, and, as a result, I'm already familiar with it. Besides that, I still have to get used to the brakes or tires, trying to find the right compromise. In the first tests, I worked more than anything else on my sensations while, here, I focused on the bike, implementing the actual developments. First of all, I had to get to know the vehicle, then make the changes."
Saturday is the first race. With what thoughts will you go to bed on Friday night?
"I don't think Saturday will be a win or loss for the World Championship. 2019 will be a very long year. I'll make sure to be calm and focused, aiming to do my best. I don't have to reach first place at all costs, also because there's the best Superbike rider ever on the track. I can only make sure that I'll do my best to be among the best."
Which MotoGP rider can be compared to Rea?
"I think every rider has something special, and no one is like Johnny."
Some compare him to Marquez.
"No, I think he's different. Rea is a strong rider who always has the situation under control. Also, he doesn't approach the limit like Marc ."
"No, not even Jorge. Lorenzo has a different mentality than he does."
There are those who consider you the anti-Rea. Is that right?
"It's very difficult to answer this question. I don't know. Among other things, I've never raced in Superbike."
On social media there are those who say you deserved the GP19 instead of Petrucci.
"I know that I did the job well. At the beginning of 2018, I struggled, but then I grew, to the point of being close to the top five. I remember the Motegi or Phillip Island race. I think I've shown that I'm a rider who can fight for something important."
Will we see you in MotoGP again one day ?
Is it true that you're an Atletico fan?
"Exactly. I'm an Atletico fan. It went well yesterday with Juventus" (smiling).
To beat Rea, you'll have to do what Simeone's team did with Juventus.
"True, but it won't be easy at all."