Though it has taken longer than originally anticipated, Ayrton Badovini has risen from a deep pool of Italian talent to assure a well-deserved place on the World Superbike Championship grid.
A break out campaign on a privateer BMW in 2011 elevated his status amongst the WSBK ranks, but going forward into 2013, Badovini will embark on a new challenge with a switch to series returnees Alstare and the new Ducati 1199 Panigale.
Beginning his career on the domestic Italian scene, alongside the likes of Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli, Badovini enjoyed early success at the turn of the millennium, finishing fifth in the 2001 Aprilia 125 Challenge aged just 15-years-old. Upgrading to the Ducati 748 Trophy in 2002, Badovini ended the season third overall, a particularly impressive result given he was forced to miss the start of the season because he hadn’t turned 16 as yet.
Despite his age, Badovini made his ‘international’ debut in 2003, riding a Ducati 999S under the Biassono EVR banner, though it was a baptism of fire for the Italian, taking until the final two rounds to score his first points. Sticking with the team for 2004, Badovini posted a notable improvement, scoring in six of the eight races, but with a best result of only 12th, he remained a fairly lowly 18th in the standings.
With the Ducati 999S ageing and proving less competitive, EVR would opt for a change of machinery in 2005, handing Badovini an MV Agusta to race. Though fairly unproven at Superstock level, Badovini posted some encouraging results aboard the bike, peaking with a fifth place finish at Assen on the way to 12th in the standings.
Sticking with the MV Agusta for 2006, but switching to Gimotorsports, Badovini enjoyed his strongest season yet, claiming a maiden victory Brno as he went on to finish fourth in the final classification.
Remaining with both team and bike for the 2007 Superstock 1000 Championship, Badovini began the season as the title favourite, but his failure to score more than seven points in the opening seven races scuppered any hopes of an overall challenge. A second win at the Magny-Cours finale helps him to ninth overall, but it was an otherwise disappointing year for Badovini.
Despite this, Badovini had still done enough to capture the attention of the World Superbike paddock, in particular PSG-1 Corse, who offered Badovini a test on its factory-supported Kawasaki. Badovini was impressive enough to earn a two-year deal with PSG-1, though the first season would be spent riding for the satellite Team Pedercini before being promoted to the manufacturer outfit in 2009.
With the Kawasaki proving fairly uncompetitive in either factory or satellite guise, Badovini had a tough base from which to impress, but by frequently out-pacing Regis Laconi and Makoto Tamada on the manufacturer machines, as well as cracking Superpole on five occasions, he nonetheless impressed many during his rookie season.
However, Badovii’s opportunity of a factory-supported ride in 2009 rested with PSG-1, and when the Sammarinese outfit was dumped by Kawasaki in favour of Paul Bird Motorsport, he was forced to begin season riding a year-old ZX-10R.
Hampered by a lack of pre-season testing, plus an injury, Badovini failed to make the season start, but while he would return for round two, he was sidelined again after three events when PSG-1 ran out of budget.
Returning to action in the FIM Endurance World Championship aboard the X One Yamaha, Badovini, together with Will Gruy and Paolo Tessari, took a best of second place at Oschersleben, but success wasn’t so forthcoming elsewhere.
As such, Badovini returned to the FIM Superstock 1000 Championship before the season was out by accepting an offer to ride the JiR Aprilia RSV-4. With the bike proving far less successful in ‘stock specification than its Superbike counterpart, Badovini caused a significant stir by claiming pole position and victory on his first appearance at Imola. However, his joy was short lived when a non-performance enhancing technical irregularity would see him cruelly excluded.
Despite this, his one-off performance had done enough to convince BMW to sign Badovini as its lead rider ahead of the 2010 FIM Superstock 1000 Championship.
Though it was BMW’s debut at Superstock level, the S1000RR proved a dominant force in Badovini’s hands, winning nine of ten races as he swept to a comfortable title victory.
Having competed under the BMW Italia banner in 2010, itself made up of the team behind 2007, 2008 and 2009 champions Ducati Xerox Junior, Badovini was an obvious candidate for a WSBK return when the squad confirmed its plans to graduate to the premier stage.
Paired with two-time champion James Toseland, though Badovini began the season as the least experienced BMW rider on the grid, he proved a revelation in 2011. Assuming team leader status when Toseland’s injury forced out of action and into retirement, Badovini overcame a slow start on the relatively untested bike to crack the top ten in round two, a result he replicated in 15 consecutive races between Monza and Magny-Cours.
Scoring a best finish of fourth – having been overtaken for third on the final corner at Misano -, Badovini was rewarded with a fine tenth in the overall standings and was a significant contributory factor to BMW’s fourth in the manufacturers’ standings.
At times faster than BMW’s own lead rider Leon Haslam, Badovini finished well ahead of Troy Corser, prompting speculation that he may be promoted to the fully-fledged factory team in 2012, or possibly even switch to Aprilia. In the end, BMW preferred Marco Melandri, with Badovini assuming a supporting role once again
However, his 2012 season would prove troublesome, Badovini struggling with the set-up on the S1000RR to the point that by mid-season he had managed just four top ten finishes. Furthermore, Badovini lacked the consistency that defined his impressive 2011 campaign, though a stronger second-half to the year – including a maiden WSBK podium at Silverstone – would lift him to a respectable 12th, just ten points off the top ten.
Even so, it wasn’t enough to earn Badovini a stay of execution at BMW when the decision was made to integrate the factory and satellite teams. Despite this, Badovini has found himself in a potentially stronger position by signing with Alstare, the series returnees teaming up with Ducati for a pseudo-factory effort.
Riding the new Ducati 1199 Panigale alongside 2011 champion Carlos Checa, Badovini faces an uphill task to develop the much anticipated bike but is now well placed to capitalise on greater factory support. Career Highlights:2013:
Frozen out of the slimmed BMW rider line-up, Badovini lands at factory-assisted Alstare Ducati for 20132012:
World Superbike Championship, BMW Italia, 12th
World Superbike Championship, BMW Italia, 10th2010:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, BMW Italia, Champion (9 wins) 2009:
World Superbike Championship (4 races), PSG-1 Kawasaki, N/A
FIM World Endurance Championship, X One Yamaha, 9th
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship (1 race), JiR Aprilia, N/A2008:
World Superbike Championship, Pedercini Kawasaki, 24th2007:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, Biassono MV Agusta, 9th (1 win) 2006:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, Biassono Gimotorsports MV Agusta, 4th (1 win) 2005:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, Biassono EVR MV Agusta, 12th2004:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, Biassono EVR Ducati, 18th2003:
FIM Superstock 1000 Championship, Biassono EVR Ducati, 24th2002:
Ducati 748 Trophy, 3rd (2 wins) 2001:
Aprilia 125 Challenge, 5th