And he may be about to get what he’s wished for with MotoGP regular Alvaro Bautista now adapting to the World Superbike championship with Ducati over the winter ahead of his switch from MotoGP in 2019.
Bautista made his debut with Ducati at the two-day Jerez test at the end of November to gain his first experience with the new Ducati V4 R Superbike in preparation for his full-time switch in this season.
The Spanish rider, who has spent the past nine years in MotoGP, ended up alternating between his Superbike debut and acting as Ducati MotoGP test rider at Jerez with regular test rider Michele Pirro away undergoing surgery.
While the 34-year-old felt comfortable switching between the production bike and prototype machine with Ducati, he’s eager to alter his approach to suit the V4 R as well as the World Superbike championship using Pirelli tyres and different electronic specifications.
“Always when you jump on a MotoGP bike everything is amazing: the power; the electronics; the gearbox,” Bautista said in Jerez. “The difference compared to the World Superbike is quite big and for sure I enjoyed riding the MotoGP bike.
“Winter in Spain is quite cold and I will ask for a Panigale [from Ducati] because it’s more similar to the bike that I use, more than in MotoGP.
“But in this break I will not ride the bike because it’s too cold and I don’t want to risk.
“I will ride Motocross like normal. For Supermoto it’s too cold, so I prefer not to risk. Motocross or Flat Track, something on the dirt. A soft landing!”
Bautista replaced Marco Melandri in the factory Ducati rider line-up alongside Chaz Davies for the 2019 World Superbike championship. The Spanish rider is also expected to retain MotoGP testing duties for Ducati next season alongside regular test rider Pirro.
It seems that WSBK has struggled in recent years to attract large crowds to events, despite changes to race formats and the technical regulations being made in a bid to make the series more exciting.
Sister Dorna-owned series MotoGP has enjoyed a halcyon period of popularity, with events reaching or getting close to sell-out status and television audience numbers also far greater than WSBK’s.
Numerous names from grand prix racing have stepped over to WSBK in recent seasons, but no front-running premier class stars have made the switch since eventual double WSBK champion and 21-times MotoGP race winner Max Biaggi in 2007.
British rider Rea – who has dominated WSBK with Kawasaki over the past three years with three titles and a record 63 victories – believes bringing a “star” rider from MotoGP to the series would “lift the public perception” of WSBK’s talent.
“It’s a cool championship,” he said when asked how to improve WSBK’s popularity.
“Sometimes all the best riders aren’t always on the best bikes, and I feel like Superbikes is an amazing place to be.
“But it would be really nice to get some real star quality from MotoGP to come here. Not guys that are finishing their career or guys that have nothing left.
“Them guys, they can go somewhere else because there are better riders here than at the back of the MotoGP grid.
“We need a star from GP to come here, and I think that will then lift the public perception, ‘wow, these guys are fast: [Eugene] Laverty, [Chaz] Davies, [Tom] Sykes, me’. Fast guys.”
Adding that having a proven MotoGP winner such as Dani Pedrosa – whose future past 2018 remains uncertain – or Andrea Iannone in the series would be a “dream”, Rea conceded whatever WSBK does it will always “play second-best” to MotoGP in terms of popularity.
“It would be incredible, it would give Superbikes more prestige to be honest,” said Rea, who also mooted Honda bringing ex-Superbike rider Cal Crutchlow across to WSBK.
“There’s hundreds of things that you could do, but of course we’re always going to play second-best to MotoGP when you talk about fan interaction and prestige.
“MotoGP is the Formula 1 of the bike world and that’s how it is.”
Photo courtesy Ducati Europe
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The WSBK team line-up so far for 2019:
Kawasaki Racing Team:
Honda World Superbike Team:
PATA Crescent Yamaha:
Michael van der Mark
BMW World Superbike Team SMR:
Puccetti Kawasaki Racing:
Michael Ruben Rinaldi
Althea MIE Honda: