The Superbike is traveling non-stop in one direction. The path it’s following has changed, but the script remains the same. Alvaro Bautista and Ducati continue to dominate and, at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelò on Sunday, the reigning World Champion duo dropped another hat-trick, even thwarting Dorna/FIM’s intervention by downgrading the Panigale V4 R by 250 rpm on the eve of the weekend in Barcelona. Number 1 doesn’t care and isn’t stopping his unstoppable ride anymore.
“Winning here is always special for me. I can celebrate with family, friends, and local fans,” the Spanish rider began. “I understood that the important thing was to cross the finish line, not make mistakes, and pay the utmost attention at every corner, because of the suboptimal asphalt. It was drizzling intermittently and, in that situation, if you end up in the lead, like what happened to me, you never know how far and how much you can push. I didn’t care about my opponents, whether they attacked me or not. I just thought about finishing the race.”
Once he saw that the rain wouldn’t create problems, the Ducati took off in the Race 2 we all saw: “Study a strategy at the start? Until you’re in the race, you can never know what’s going to happen. For example, in Assen, when I exchanged positions with Rea several times, I always tried to keep my pace. That’s to say that I can’t always push to the fullest. It depends on the situations that are created. We need to be conservative at first. Both today and yesterday, I couldn’t risk more, otherwise I would have had problems with my tire management.”
We’re barely one third of the way through the championship, but the advantage in the standings increases inexorably, plus the astonishing statistics with the 43rd victory ever in the Superbike, with 13 out of 14 races of 2023: “I feel really fast. I’ve been cultivating this sensation since last year, which was the best season of my career. At the same time, I like to train physically under several fronts and in different ways. In fact, I love it. Why shouldn’t I? After celebrating at the garage, I’ll go home, and I’ll immediately go to the gym tomorrow morning to work out in view of the Misano tests scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Maybe someday I’ll get tired of getting ready to race. In the meantime, I'm focused on the present.”
Bautista is in the crosshairs of the entire paddock, and the competition is wondering bow resolve the disadvantage: “We’ve reached a very high level with the team. I don’t really know if we’re reaching our best or if there are areas where we can still improve. We’ve been using the same bike for two years now. In 2022, we had to wait for Friday afternoon before identifying the ideal set-up. Today, all we need is the FP1 on Friday morning. We never revolutionize the bike, which means that we get to the races much more prepared than in the past.”
Bautista sets his sights on the second crown in the Superbike, after (among other things) the sensational debacle in 2019: “Now I have everything under control, and I understand what the limits are. If we need a fifth place, I’ll make sure to take it home. At the time, I only thought about going fast, often risking more than I should have. Both for me and for the team, the package was new. We then lost the championship to a mix of confusion and inexperience from both. Fortunately, the situation is very different today. We’re working in the right direction, and we’re stronger than ever,” he concluded.