BAUTISTA FUTURE LATEST: “I still feel young… I don’t have the feeling to say ‘I’ll stop’…”

It’s what a motorcycle racer has known all of their life; from the first steps onto a track with pocket bikes to voyages into World Championships, falling down to rising high, clinching wins, titles, fans and emotions. To end it all and finish the dream is a complicated subject. In a career that has gone on for more than two decades, bringing three World Championships, 75 World Championship race wins and over 130 podiums, it’s the question Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) faces. To pack it all in despite still being a race winner and current Championship leader, or to extend his current contract with Ducati into 2025, where he’ll start the season aged 40. Few race beyond, even fewer succeed with titles but with racing being a hobby and a way of life, the reigning double WorldSBK Champion needs no motivation… he just needs to decide whether to roll the dice on more time or not.

Reflecting on the duration of his World Championship career, Bautista reminisced: “I think in that time, I can’t believe that I kept racing for more than 20 years and winning in my last years. When I started in 2003 as a World Championship rider, it was a dream come true. I watched the races in TV with my father as a child. In that moment, I didn’t think ‘I want to be a rider and race many years’, I’d just started racing. From that moment, the dream of my life was complete. After that, I won the title in 2006 and then I went to 250cc and MotoGP™, racing against the best riders in the world. I came to WorldSBK, a new Championship but I won two titles. It’s still like the first day of school; I have the same motivations, ambitions, I work on myself to be a better rider every time. I’m not tired of racing. It’s strange because it’s been many years in a high level of competition but I still feel young.”

CHANGING MOTIVATIONS: “I feel like I’m racing because I’m enjoying; I want to race, it’s like a hobby”

Talking about motivation, how different factors have changed over the years and how he “doesn’t have” it right now, the reigning double World Champion said: “The motivations are different after every year. In every moment, especially in MotoGP™ when I didn’t have the best bike, I tried to achieve the maximum. If I can’t win a race because of the bike, team or whatever, it was about trying to achieve the best result and do the best for me. Before, I was more focused on myself but now, it’s a different story. I don’t know if it’s because I have family, my age or because I have more experience but I see things in a different way.

“I feel less pressure than in MotoGP™; I feel like I am racing because I’m enjoying and I want to race. It’s like a hobby, not like my work. When you do things like it’s a hobby, it’s because you want to. When you want to, you don’t need motivation because you’re doing it as you want to do it and you like doing it. Right now, I don’t feel like I have a motivation because I’m enjoying it, so I like it and do it. I don’t need motivation. It’s really, really nice to share the races with family, friends, my daughters, so it’s a different situation. With experience and age, I see things in a different way.”

DIFFERENT TO OTHERS: “I want to be competitive so I need to work more”

After a dominant start to 2023 and winning in big battles at the end, does new motivation come from beating new opposition? “Winning is always nice! To battle is always nice too. I started last year by winning many races and also the whole year, it wasn’t like I had everything under control but more or less like ‘if I do this, this and this, I can win the race’, as I knew the rivals really well. However, this year is different. The riders are different, the level is different, I started with the physical problem and this year, I don’t know why but I feel more motivation and more eagerness to work harder to be better. I feel the level is higher so if I want to be competitive now, I have to work harder – but it’s not a ‘motivation’, it’s because I want to be competitive so I need to work more. It’s not like other riders where if they win and if they face difficulties, think that ‘I’ve done many years so I’ll stay at home, I don’t need to keep working and trying to improve my ways’; for me it’s different. That’s what happening this year with all the changes; it has given me more confidence in my work to try and reach the best performance.”

INJURY AND AGE: “In Spain, we say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’”

“Maybe when you’re younger, you recover sooner but it’s true that for me, I’d never had an injury like this in the past,” said the 39-year-old, who suffered a preseason testing crash and thus was injured throughout testing and Round 1. “Fortunately, the injuries I had before were like broken bones or something like that where it is easy to recover. It’s a new kind of injury for me but in Spain, we say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, so after this injury, I felt better because I had to work in another area of my body or in a different way. This injury made me feel like I’m improving myself and I discovered a new area where I can improve to be better. In the end, I took the positive thing of the injury.”

FAMILY MAN: “Family is very important… but at the moment, my feeling is that they enjoy my world”

“In the end, family is very important; especially now, as my daughters are bigger and they understand more about my life, work and travels. But at the moment, my feeling is that they enjoy my world a lot. It’s always a big pleasure for me to keep racing and enjoying the time with them. However, it’s not only the family. I’ve been many years at a high level of competition, the age and there start to be more factors outside of the family that can effect my future. There’s new rivals too but fortunately, I have good support from my family and friends and that’s important to keep me focused on racing.”

AS IT STANDS, CONTINUE OR STOP? “I keep racing because I enjoy it and because I’m doing my best, but right now…”

Championship leader despite having less wins than arch-rival Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), Bautista is surprised to be there, confirming the feeling hasn’t quite been recovered fully: “If you’d told me at the beginning of the season, before the first race and after the winter where my feeling with my bike and myself was not the best, that I’d be leading the Championship after Round 3, I’d not be able to believe it. It’s been a good surprise to lead the Championship after a strange weekend in Australia and the tricky conditions at Assen, where I struggled before in the cold and wet. Right now, I want to have a good feeling with the bike; it’s not the same feeling as last year so before thinking about the future, I want to recover the feeling and the feeling of being 100% at my best. Right now, I feel like we are 85% or 90%. I keep racing because I enjoy it and because I’m doing my best but right now, I don’t think we’re in our best so first of all, I want to recover this feeling. Then, I’ll think about the future.”

“After the Cremona and Misano tests, I hope to work on the bike and change the things I wanted to in the races but for example, at Assen, we couldn’t try anything. I’ll try to make tests that I wanted to do and between them, I hope to get the feeling back and arrive for the Misano races at my best. Then, I’ll see how my performance is comparing against the race.”

HERE TO STAY? “I don’t have the feeling to say ‘I’ll stop’…

Talking about whether it’s difficult to contemplate ending what he’s known his whole life, Bautista was clear in not having that feeling… yet: “I don’t know as at the moment, I don’t have the feeling to say ‘I stop’. I’m just focused on recovering the feeling and enjoying it. I don’t feel pressure or that it’s my work, just relaxed and that it’s my hobby. I want to enjoy my hobby. The moment I wake up in the morning and don’t think, ‘I want to be a better rider’, I will stop. At the moment, I want to be better to enjoy the bike.”

EVERY SECOND LIVE: watch all the action from 2024 and beyond with the WorldSBK VideoPass!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *