The 2019 World Superbike season was the duel for the World title between Alvaro Bautista and Johnny Rea. In fact, they were the stars for the race to the throne of the derivatives, which eventually crowned the Cannibal for the fifth consecutive time.
A year during which Alvaro dominated the first eleven races, then began to melt like snow in the sun, passing the baton onto the rider from Northern Ireland who, once he took over leadership in Donington, he never let it out of his sight. Certainly, there were lots of twists and turns in this Championship, since the script seemed written in one way, but then was changed into another. Raise your hand if you ever thought of a debacle for Ducati and Bau Bau after Jerez. Probably no one.
Bautista made a mistake, Rea took advantage of it, revealing himself a steamroller and winning what, for the rider from Northern Ireland, was the most difficult challenge of his whole career. When it comes to challenges, in motor sports, we obviously mean the confrontation between one or more riders, which then leads to decreeing the winner.
But a question actually comes to mind: when have we ever seen Rea and Bautista duel it out between each other? Obviously, we're not here asking for a head-to-head on the last meter, like those of the golden days of the Superbike, much less an Imola-style scrimmage between Bayliss and Edwards.
If in the MotoGP Marc Marquez dominated the 2019 World Championship, defeating his direct rival, Andrea Dovizioso, it's important to underline that, during some stages of the season, we witnessed a direct confrontation between the two. This was the case in Qatar, when the rider from Forlì won by only a few thousandths of a second, or the Red Bull Ring, with that overtake at the last corner after a GP battled out between the two. And what about Mugello? Despite the fact that, on that occasion, there was Petrucci, the odd man out.
In the Superbike, on the other hand, besides the Superpole Race at Phillip Island and that little skirmish at Buriram, there has never been a single direct confrontation between Bautista and Rea. Several times, during Friday's media scrums, we asked both riders, given their race paces, if the time had come to finally set up a confrontation between the Spanish rider and the Cannibal. Instead, we've always been proven wrong every time. Imola, Misano, Jerez, Donington, and so on.
We were certainly not here to expect a battle among fairings between the two, as if to say "bread and games". That wasn't it at all. But the lack of confrontation between Bautista and Rea was not slight. It would have been useful to understand what the strengths and weaknesses of one or the other were, or the style adopted by a rider who grew through the MotoGP and another through the Superbike, as well as the potential expressed by one bike rather than another.
An interesting trait would come out, to be analyzed and compared, in order to understand how different or similar Johnny and Alvaro were. Instead, all that remains is the regret for a season that ends between lights and shadows. However, there are still two appointments, Argentina and Qatar. Who knows if they'll be proven wrong in these final rounds.