What goes through a rider's mind immediately after winning the title? Alvaro Bautista has been talking about it on the official SBK World Championship website, immediately after he got his hands on the championship in Indonesia, one round before the season finale. “World Champion 2022 sounds really good. When you get back home and see your family and friends, that's when you will say: “I know what I got, what I achieved and now it’s time to enjoy it” said the Spanish rider, who this year managed to complete the feat that had eluded him on his debut with Ducati in 2019.
It’s the closing of a circle, after two difficult seasons on the Honda CBR 1000 RR-R: “I think the hashtag I was using this season, #TheReturn, can mean many, many things. The return to Ducati. The return to be a competitive rider - revealed Bautista - The first day we started to work together, I was a bit nervous. I knew that I could be fast and competitive but, before you jump on the bike, simply I had a doubt but when I did the first laps on the bike, the doubt disappeared. I was smiling because I felt the bike was mine.”
Right from the first races, Bautista showed that he has an enviable feeling with his Panigale V4 R, which allowed him to win the championship at the penultimate round of the season. Although he was the firm favourite, the Spaniard nevertheless admitted that he felt a certain tension before the start of the last race at Mandalika: “I always tried to be focused but, believe me, in Race 2 I started to feel more pressure than all the season. When I was leading at that moment, I was too nervous. I didn’t want to make a mistake and, maybe because of that, I was making a lot of mistakes. My target was trying to win the Championship, not the race, so it was different from other races!”
Although the race victory went to Razgatlioglu, who dominated the Indonesian weekend, second place in Race 2 mathematically crowned a Bautista as exhausted as he was radiant.
“After the race, when I stopped to celebrate and to put the #1 on my bike, at that moment I wanted to celebrate. But, at the same time, I couldn’t because I didn’t have energy - said the 38 year-old - The first phone call I made was to my wife because I want to see her and see my daughters. It's funny because, when I arrive home, I always show the trophies to my daughters, especially the big one, as they’re starting to understand more things. Imagine when I arrive with the World Champion trophy and give it to her… for me, that will be more emotional than everything.”
So many emotions made even sweeter by the awareness of having crowned a dream with the team with which he took his first steps in the championship, bringing the title back to Borgo Panigale eleven years after the victory of Carlos Checa, with the Ducati of the Althea team.
“Everybody in the past told me I have to be a Champion with Ducati. It’s something different. You don’t realise that until you do it. It’s true. I remember here in WorldSBK, three years ago, when I won the first race with Ducati. It was very special. Many people become crazy! I feel I will have a space in Ducati history forever.”
A result obtained thanks to the incredible consistency in the performance of the Ducati rider, who took 16 victories during the season, reaching the podium 31 times in 36 races. So many great moments to remember, but there are two weekends that Bautista recalls with the most enthusiasm.
“The Misano round was very important. I remember that weekend, I was so focused and concentrated so much. I just wanted to do a perfect job and the feeling of the bike was amazing. Finishing in front of Jonathan, who, at that moment, was the main rival in the classification made it one of the best weekends of the season – declared the Spaniard - If I say the Misano round was a perfect weekend, I think Catalunya was even better! Especially coming from Magny-Cours. The best was the feeling I had with the bike was amazing. I enjoyed all the races and all the practices. I think the best weekend of the season.”
The only negative point of an almost perfect season was the crash in the first race in England, which brought to mind that retirement in 2019 that started off a sharp drop in results, which cost Alvaro the title.
“My worst thing was when I crashed at Donington. It was my fault, my mistake. But many people thought ‘now he starts to feel the pressure and it starts to be like 2019 and he starts making mistakes.’ – recalled Bautista – I was really, really calm because I knew what the problem was. In Race 2, I showed myself and all the people that I made a mistake, but this year is different from three years ago.”