A large part of the spotlights are on him this weekend. Yes, because Imola is Ducati's home race and fans of the red bike are hoping for yet another win for Alvaro Bautista. The Spaniard knows that the weekend will have a special flavour, but he prefers not to overthink it, remaining focused on the track.
The test he completed on 24 April has left the Aruba rider feeling confident and ready for battle.
“Prior to that date I'd only seen the sign for the track when driving on the motorway - begins the Spaniard – the test was useful, as we had both wet and dry conditions. It's an old-style track that reminds me of Laguna in some ways, though with less undulation. It's not difficult to learn like Portimao, though they could do something in terms of the safety in the future. I think that needs to be looked at”.
What can we expect from this round?
“I know it's an important race for Ducati, but I personally don't expect anything. I just want to have to right feeling with the bike and try to achieve maximum performance. If I can win that's great but my confidence with the V4 is the most important thing”.
Talking with Rea, he said that he's considered not winning even one race this year. Do you think you'll be able to maintain just a significant advantage?
“I don't think my level will drop, but that of my rivals will rise. When you have one rider or rival who's more competitive you try to go with him. There is no one rider or bike that is impossible to beat and I can tell you that I'm the first to be surprised by the results so far. I don't expect to win all the races, as it's impossible to maintain that kind of gap”.
Can your rivals only beat you if they build a MotoGP version of a SBK?
“Every manufacturer can do as Ducati has done, interpreting the regulation the best they can, but that's not enough, because you need a strong bike and rider, and team too”.
Alvaro, are you thinking about a return to MotoGP?
“My goal is to win, as I'm getting on well with this bike, though I'd like to be in MotoGP with a factory bike. I know that many riders want the factory Ducati and I know that going from SBK to MotoGP is more complicated. The only thing I can do is give it my all, but the decision is not mine”.
You don't think SBK has weakened you in some way?
“Rather than the results, I'm focusing on performance, and at Assen the best race time was quicker than that of MotoGP. I think that with the current material we are at a very high level and this confirms both my potential and that of the bike”.
Dovizioso has said that no one has ever understood how strong Bautista is.
“Perhaps from the outside, Andrea definitely knows my situation better than others. I was aware of my potential but perhaps I didn't have a bike that allowed me to fully express that. Now I am sure that I am in top shape and demonstrating top-level performance to have a MotoGP”.
Did you know Pirro wanted to race in place of you?
“I read that interview with Michele on GPOne. Pirro is a really great rider and he deserves an opportunity in Superbike”.