Esteve ‘Tito’ Rabat’s arrival into the World Superbike Championships (WSBK) has been one of the striking attractions of the new season, although he does find himself ranked only 14th overall after two rounds thus far.
The Barcelona rider, who just turned 32, made his racing debut in WSBK at the season-opening Aragon Round, in Spain, and he says he has recharged his illusions and motivation with the Barni Racing Team in 2021.
After five years competing in MotoGP, without consistently great results, he has seized the opportunity that arose in the WSBK arena to feel the adrenaline on the track and the euphoria of the podium places.
Passionate about racing since he was a child, Rabat became known in the 125cc division back in 2005, and since then he has lived for motorcycles. Always chasing glory, which in his case has had an intermittent presence.
If his passage through 125cc was a learning stage, with podiums but without wins, his consolidation on the world scene came with the jump to Moto2, where he rose to the podium in all the seasons he contested and where he achieved the dream by being crowned World Champion in 2014, after a phenomenal campaign in which he achieved seven victories and 14 podiums.
Every intermediate class champion aspires to compete with the MotoGP elite and Rabat made the leap to the premier class in 2016.
Over five seasons he participated in 77 races, with a seventh place as the best result. Despite not being a constant front-runner, Rabat is nonetheless a World Champion: “I have been World Champion, I have achieved pole positions, I have won races … I’ve shown my potential,” he said shortly before his arrival to the Barni Racing Team was announced.
Rabat is also known as one of the most dedicated riders in terms of bike fitness.
Of those who train alone, even if it is with the street bike, Rabat often completes more than 100 laps during a day of practice at any given track, as he did recently in the tests in Barcelona and Aragon.
Rabat also joins the likes of Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa and Nicky Hayden, who headed to WSBK from MotoGP in their 30s, all taking wins and in the case of Biaggi and Checa, they were rivals, and both took titles.
At the moment, the Rabat has struggled in the new chapter aboard the Panigale V4 R, a motorcycle that resembles the factory Ducati at 99% but with which he still does not understand 100%.
“They tell me that, if I show that I can win races and be ahead, I am sure that I will have all the equipment to be fighting for the first places,” said Rabat at the beginning of his pre-season.
However, in subsequent tests, the former MotoGP rider encountered more difficulties than expected to handle and, above all, he’s had a recurring vibration problem that has seen him suffer.
“I’m understanding how the team works, the tyres, the bike,” he explained. “But you have to work to get the bike a little more ready, because we have a wall there.
“The team is working well, within the possibilities, but we need the bike to go a little better, it has a lot of chatter and that needs to be improved. I’m better every year, stronger and more focused, so I am convinced.”
With that mentality, Rabat made it clear that his arrival in the new paddock is to feel like a winner again, to return to the podium and show his full potential, to be competitive with the most competitive.
Rabat has declared that he is not just on the grid to ‘make up the numbers’ and sooner or later, his World Champion experience should shine through to propel the Spaniard forward in WSBK.
Photo courtesy Matteo Cavadini
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Standings after round two in Estoril, Portugal:
|1||Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK||110|
|2||Toprak Razgatlioglu Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK||75|
|3||Scott Redding Aruba.it Ducati||72|
|4||Alex Lowes Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK||62|
|5||Chaz DaviesGo Eleven Ducati||48|
|6||Garrett Gerloff GRT Yamaha||42|
|7||Michael Van Der Mark Motorrad BMW WorldSBK Team||40|
|8||Tom Sykes Motorrad BMW WorldSBK Team||36|
|9||Andrea Locatelli Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK||30|
|10||Alvaro Bautista Team HRC WorldSBK||25|
|11||Michael Rinaldi Aruba.it Ducati||25|
|12||Leon Haslam Team HRC WorldSBK||16|
|13||Axel Bassani Motocorsa Racing Ducati||16|
|14||Tito Rabat Barni Racing Ducati Team||13|
|15||Lucas Mahias Kawasaki Puccetti Racing||12|
|16||Kohta Nozane GRT Yamaha||11|
|17||Eugene Laverty RC Squadra Corse BMW||9|
|18||Jonas Folger Bonovo MGM Racing BMW||8|
|19||Isaac Vinales Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki||7|
|20||Christophe Ponsson Alstare Yamaha||1|
|21||Loris Cresson TPR Team Pedercini Racing||0|
|22||Samuele Cavalieri TPR Team Pedercini Racing||0|
|23||Leandro Mercado MIE Racing Honda||0|