Alvaro Bautista feels optimistic about his chances in this weekend’s World Superbike season opener in Aragon, citing his “very close” testing speed to Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Bautista has returned to the factory Ducati squad, where he made his stunning WSBK debut back in 2019, to replace Scott Redding after two largely unsuccessful seasons at Honda that yielded only three podiums and no victories.
After two days of running, the Spanish rider finished third behind pacesetter Rea and 2021 champion Razgatlioglu in the official test at Aragon this week.
With a fast lap towards the end of Tuesday’s action on his Kawasaki, Rea ended three tenths ahead of the rest of the field, but Bautista’s best time put him just 0.026s behind second-placed Razgatlioglu in the final order.
The Aragon test was not the best indicator of the pecking order due to the low temperatures in testing, but Bautista feels hopeful about his chances in an increasingly competitive WSBK grid.
“Both [Rea and Razgatlioglu] are very strong,” said the Spanish rider.
“Right now they are the strongest riders in the category and I think they will be in the battle to win the race.”
“Maybe we are not as fast as them [over a single lap], but maybe with our [race] pace we are very close,” he added.
“But you have to be careful with these tests and the race weekend, because the temperature will be different, and with this tyre we feel a big difference in the temperature.”
“I hope to be at the front fighting with the guys. It’s different from three years ago because it was just Jonathan and me.”
“Now there are more riders fighting, Toprak, Jonathan, [Garrett] Gerloff has had a good pre-season, there are more riders in the mix. I look forward to fighting for them for top six, top seven.”