How do you reward the reigning World Superbike champion and current series leader? For Ducati, it means Alvaro Bautista gets a MotoGP wild card ride in Malaysia, following two recent tests at Misano on the current Ducati Desmosedici GP bike.
The 38-year-old Spaniard spent eight years in the MotoGP championship, taking three podiums from 158 starts with four different manufacturers (factory Suzuki, Gresini Honda and Aprilia, and then Aspar Ducati). He then switched to World Superbikes for 2019.
It’s a welcome return for the Dutch rider as Michael van der Mark returns for the Most WSB round after missing a lot of the 2023 World Superbike season due to injury.
A big crash in race two at Assen saw Van der Mark leave his home round with a fractured left femur, which has required surgery and time to heal. During his recovery period, the Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team brought in Ivo Miguel Lopes, Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam as substitutes riders, but it’ll be good to see the Dutch rider back on the BMW M 1000 RR, especially as he also missed races in 2022 after breaking his right tibia in a mountain bike crash, and his right femur after high-siding at the Estoril round.
Speculation has ended about the future of the 2021 World Superbike Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu signs for BMW WorldSBK in 2024.
The 26-year-old has been confirmed to join the BMW Motorrad Motorsport WorldSBK factory team, riding a BMW M1000 RR. The other riders and teams are set to be announced at a later date, with the factory team currently fielding Scott Redding and Tom Sykes (as a replacement for the injured Michael van der Mark), plus Garrett Gerloff and Loris Baz at Bonovo Action BMW.
Gerloff is currently the top-placed rider in the 2023 WorldSBK standings after four rounds, sitting in 13th place overall.
After winning both championships in 2022, the Ducati 2023 MotoGP and WorldSBK teams launched at a joint event in the Alps this week. It was a chance to see the unveiling of the bikes, liveries and riders who will be competing in both series this year.
The Ducati Lenovo Desmosedici GP bikes will be ridden by reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia, and new team-mate Enea Bastianini, who finished third in 2022 riding for the Gresini Racing team. It’s Bagnaia’s third season riding for the team, and will also mark 20 years since the Italian factory debuted in the premier class in 2003.
Alongside the MotoGP machines, the Aruba.it Racing Ducati team were also unveiled with the Panigale V4 R of Alvaro Bautista wearing the number 1 plate. Baustista is once again partnered by Michael Ruben Rinaldi.
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #19)
“We have a new challenge ahead of us. After a fantastic season in which we won with Ducati in both Superbike and MotoGP, 2023 will inevitably be a difficult year. Racing with the number 1, in fact, means that our objective can only be one: to win. We’ll have a lot of pressure but at the same time we’ll have to keep calm, try to work with high concentration but also with serenity. We’ll have a new bike and even if it won’t be extremely different from the 2022 one, the work that we’ll be able to do before the first race is crucial: we have to fix all the details that will allow us to get the best performance.
I’d also like to address a thought to all the Ducatistas: I’m very proud of all our fans who followed us last season, and I hope that with the result we’ve achieved, in 2023 there will be even more of them supporting us at circuits all over the world. I am a Ducatista and I feel lucky to be able to defend the colours of the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team”.
Michael Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #21)
“I start this new adventure with great enthusiasm. Together with my team we have always made progress in the last two years, managing to improve our results. As a team we won the three titles last season and this means that the package is very strong. During the winter, we have analyzed the points we have to focus on, in order to improve and to be competitive for the title race. I have worked a lot over the last few weeks and I will continue to do so with great dedication as I want to always be able to express my maximum potential. There will be a lot of new things, also on the bike, so I can’t wait to get started. I want to thank Aruba and Ducati for the opportunity to ride this beautiful Panigale V4 R and be part of such an ambitious team”.
With both Ducati teams fielding the reigning world champions, it’s set to be an interesting season for the Italian motorcycle firm.
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Want to experience the life of a professional World Superbike racer without the effort, risk and financial expenditure? You’ll be able to try it out virtually when the new SBK 22 game launches on September 15th, 2022.
It will be available to buy online as a digital download for the PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S consoles, the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 5. And it will feature all the bikes and riders of the current World Superbike class, along with the circuits on the current calendar. So you can be a Kawasaki ZX-10R mounted Jonathan Rea or Alex Lowes, Scott Redding on his BMW M1000RR, Alvaro Bautista on the Ducati V4R Panigale, Toprak Ragatioglu on the Yamaha YZF-R1, or Iker Lecuona on the Honda CBR1000 RR-R.