As red as red can be. Phillip Island well and truly became Ducati domain last weekend. Hands up those who could have imagined such a weekend at the Australian track, and yet here we saw a Bautista we didn't expect, on board the debuting Panigale V4. It was the Spaniard who cannibalised Rea, beating up in the race by a total of 30 seconds, something that seemed possible only in dreams and yet it became a reality for Johnny over the championship's opening weekend.
Another rider disappointed at the end of the first round is Chaz Davies, who represents the flip side of the coin in the Aruba camp. And what about the BMW of Tom Sykes or the Honda of Leon Camier, both still seeking the right path. Having said that, this is still only the opening round, so perhaps it's best to wait rather than jumping to conclusions.
THE GOOD – It can only be him, Alvaro Bautista. A weekend to remember for the Spaniard, who showed everyone how it's done in Superbike. Phillip Island 2019 will go down in history, the same history that #19 dreams of writing this season with the latest evolution of Ducati brought to the track by the Borgo Panigale manufacturer.
THE BAD – If anyone had any doubts about Leon Haslam's talent, the Aussie weekend should have cleared those up. The Pocket Rocket was out on track with the bit between his teeth at Phillip Island, dueling with team-mate Rea and reaching the podium on Sunday. A pity about his crash on Saturday, who knows what he could have done.
THE UGLY – You know when you go to a party and everyone's having fun while you are in the corner, not knowing anyone? Well this pretty much sums up Chaz Davies' weekend at Phillip Island. While his team-mate popped the prosecco on the highest step of the podium, the Welshman was working out how to fix the problems with the Ducati V4. A weekend that got off to a bad start, Chaz Davies qualifying on the back row, and one that only picked up a little come race. Operation redemption at Buriram!
THE DISAPPOINTMENT – There were high hopes for the new bikes but, at the end of the weekend, we are left asking ourselves what happened to BMW. A disappointing start for the S1000RR, left to play the part of extra with Tom Sykes. With respect to #66 performance during testing, the races proved quite another story.
THE CONFIRMATION – All the clues were there right from the test sessions. Hats off to Randy Krummenacher then, winning of the inaugural SSP race in Australia. The Swiss rider couldn't have asked for a better gift on his birthday.
THE MISTAKE – With a flag to flag race, anything can happen. This time, luck was not with Federico Caricasulo. The Italian came into the garage for the tyre change one lap after team-mate Krummenacher, but then attempted to head back out with the rear stand still attached to his R6. We dread to think what the Evan Bros. rider was thinking at that point.
THE SURPRISE – He himself could not have expected it after second practice, and yet Marco Melandri shone with team GRT's R1, gifting the team a memorable podium on its debut appearance at Phillip Island. Filippo Conti could not have asked for more!
THE PASS – The final turn at Phillip Island holds no secrets for Marco Melandri. Last year he made the move on Rea, this time it was Lowes' turn, passed in the final stages by the independent Yamaha.
THE INTERESTING FACT – Has anyone ever done better during a debut round than Bautista? No, but one man did do something very similar. We're talking about John Kocinski, who gave Ducati the double win on his first appearance in SBK. It was 1996, at Misano, a season in which the American finished third. We can only hope Alvaro does better.
I TOLD YOU SO – “The V4? Nothign exceptional”. Perhaps Pere Riba was referring to Davies, Laverty or Rinaldi's bike when he spoke recently about Ducati's latest evolution. It appears he hadn't been counting on Bautista.