WSBK leader Bautista understands MotoGP "less and less"
World Superbike championship leader Alvaro Bautista admits he understands MotoGP "less and less” and feels that the rider no longer makes the difference in the championship.
This year’s WSBK campaign has developed into a clear three-way battle between Ducati rider Bautista and last year’s title protagonists, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea, with the trio having won all 15 races so far between them and shared the podium 10 times.
The picture in MotoGP is somewhat less clear however, with the first half of the season having produced five different race winners, 13 different podium finishers and only one rider with podiums in more than half the races so far, points leader Fabio Quartararo.
It comes against a backdrop of rapid change in MotoGP since Bautista last raced in the series in 2018 before his switch to WSBK the following year.
The Spaniard feels the retirement of Valentino Rossi and other big names has damaged MotoGP’s appeal, and admitted to being confused by the influx of youngsters whose performances range from fighting for wins and podiums to scrabbling for minor points.
“Rossi’s retirement has been an important factor in MotoGP, but there’s also been a very rapid generational change,” Bautista said in an interview with Motorsport.com’s Spanish edition. “In two or three years, there was a huge rush to sign young riders.
“So it’s not just Rossi fans [that have lost interest], it’s the fans of other riders, myself included, who have been replaced by young and inexperienced riders. Now I understand MotoGP less and less. Some riders fight for victory one week, and the next time not.
MotoGP has experienced a major generational shift since Bautista's final season in 2018
“Nowadays, with so much technology on the bikes, the rider makes less of a difference. Many riders are coming from Moto2 and are fast straight away, which was impossible when I was riding. Back then, finishing in the top five really felt like a win. You had Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez… big-name riders on factory bikes.
“Not to take credit away from any rider, but the bikes are so similar now I don’t think the rider is that important. That’s what I think after being out of MotoGP for three years.”
However, Bautista was keen to single out the efforts of compatriot and former 125cc teammate Aleix Espargaro, who sits second in the standings behind Fabio Quartararo having scored Aprilia’s first premier-class win earlier this year in Argentina.
“I started the Aprilia project in 2015, so he is following that path and I am happy for him,” said Bautista of Espargaro, who has been a fixture of the Italian marque since 2017. “We are both a bit older, we are hard workers and we always want to give a bit more.
“This season, Aleix is getting 100 percent out of the bike and himself, which is what is missing today in MotoGP. These days, the riders are not reaching 100 percent of their potential, but he is.”
Bautista added that he hopes that the growing profile of WSBK in recent seasons can also be replicated in Spain, where MotoGP has traditionally been the dominant category.
“In Spain WSBK seemed like a second division series, and I thought so too before I came here,” he admitted. “Now you can’t compare it to MotoGP. The riders are no worse than they are in MotoGP; in fact, some riders have come here from MotoGP and done nothing.
“It’s a totally different championship and now more and more people are following it. The atmosphere is amazing and I recommend motorcycle fans in Spain to visit a race.
“It’s not as popular here as it is in other countries, but I want people to understand that it’s not inferior to MotoGP, but different, with a really high level of competition.”
Van der Mark to remain at BMW's WSBK team in 2023
Hickman joins factory BMW team for Most WSBK round
McAnally Hilgemann Racing will field a pair of fulltime entries in the NASCAR Truck Series next season with drivers Christian Eckes and Jake Garcia.
The next-gen IndyCar engine formula, set for introduction in 2024, will now couple hybrid units with 2.2-liter engines rather than increasing capacity to 2.4 liters.
The Maserati MSG squad has unveiled the livery of its Tipo Folgore car it will race for the first time in Formula E next season.
Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is in the running for a seat with the Vanwall Le Mans Hypercar squad in next year’s World Endurance Championship.