Alvaro Bautista: ‘Maybe I win because I’m a good rider’ - Exclusive

Alvaro Bautista says his dominance at the top of WorldSBK is underestimated and that the complaints made prior to the new weight limit rule indicate that.

Alvaro Bautista, MotoGP race, Malaysia MotoGP, 12 November
Alvaro Bautista, MotoGP race, Malaysia MotoGP, 12 November

A new minimum weight limit rule for rider and bike will debut in WorldSBK this season and it should bring the field closer together.

But it’s come at a cost for Alvaro Bautista as the two-time world champion has had to adjust more than any other rider.

It’s clear that Bautista feels as though the new rule has brought his level of performance down, rather than aid other riders and teams to get closer.

Bautista put together the most dominant season ever in WorldSBK last year, but when he was riding for Honda and struggling for success, the former MotoGP rider felt as though nothing was done to bring the grid closer.

Instead, Bautista believes the new rule has been created without realising that maybe his success is because he’s riding better than his competitors.

Speaking exclusively to Crash, Bautista said: “When I was riding for Honda nobody complained about the weight. But when we started winning a lot they began complaining about the bike’s performance and saying it was too high, that Ducati is too good a bike and that it was impossible to fight against Ducati, they have to cut their RPM’s.

“Then they said, ‘ok but the only Ducati winning is Alvaro’ and that I’m too light. But it’s just an excuse.

“It’s like they don’t think I can be a good rider as well. So not because of the weight or the bike, but maybe I can win because I’m a good rider.

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“I won in 125cc and fought for the podium in MotoGP. Maybe I’m a good rider as well. It’s like they try to find an excuse instead of me maybe being a better rider than them. If you see, more-or-less the average weight and height for every rider is not too big, not too strong.

“There are strange cases like Valentino [Rossi] who is tall but in the normal rider configuration we are not too big or too strong. The problem in WorldSBK is that there are a lot of tall riders who are very strong.

“If you want to be a rider you have to work to be a rider. For example, Aleix Espargaro in MotoGP is a tall rider but he works to be a rider and does a lot of training to be fit.

“But the problem like I said is, instead of the rider working on themselves to be a better rider or more in shape, they penalise a rider that makes that worth.

“For me, it is not fair and it’s an excuse to say I can not be good.”

What is likely to happen as a result of the new rule is a closer world championship in 2024.

Bautista expects rivals such as Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea to be very strong, despite both men changing manufacturers.

But when I asked if his team-mate Nicolo Bulega should be considered, the Spaniard said: “For sure, in fact, I remember last year when many journalists asked me about the rivals - Toprak to BMW and Jonathan switching to Yamaha - but no one asked me but I always said Nicolo.

“I said be careful because Nicolo is a really good rider, very young and a very talented rider.

“His approach every weekend in Supersport was very professional and the way to work is very similar to mine.

“I put him as one of the names fighting for the championship. For me it is not a surprise.

“I expect him to be fighting from the first race even if he is a rookie rider, I think he can fight for the title in his first year.”

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