Alvaro Bautista might be moving to World Superbike next season to be Chaz Davies teammate at Aruba.it Ducati, but the Spanish rider decided to put on a great show at Phillip Island last Sunday, when he rode the factory Desmosedici GP18 to an excellent fourth place, just a few seconds away from the podium position of Andrea Dovizioso.
Bautista, who is used to ride the GP17 version of the Ducati bike of Angel Nieto Team, did struggle to get to grips with the bike that usually is ridden by Jorge Lorenzo, who is out of action because of a wrist injury.
Qualifying wasn’t so good, he also crashed twice, and it seemed that Bautista was going to prove what usually everyone says of the Ducati bike, that it is a difficult bike to ride, and only a couple of riders are able to get results with her.
But on race day, everything changed for the Talavera de la Reina rider, who showed just how quick he can be if he has a factory supported bike at his disposal.
Alvaro Bautista rode past 13 riders to reach the fight for the podium, and only when he did a mistake when changing gear, he lost contact with Andrea Dovizioso and that left the Italian alone to cross the line in third.
Bautista’s performance was one of the highlights of the Australian GP, and that sparked a few words from the Ducati Factory duo, with both Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo saying how great Bautista rode
“I’m not surprised because I know him (Bautista) for a very long time now, and his riding style is at the same level as the best MotoGP riders. This was a good track for him and he did a great result, so I’m happy for him and for the team”, said Dovizioso.
At his home in Lugano, Switzerland, Jorge Lorenzo was also paying close attention to Bautista’s performance with the bike that usually carries the #99 on the fairings. The triple world champion used his official Twitter account to speak about what he saw from Alvaro Bautista on Sunday
“Great riding and great result for Bautista! It’s never easy to be as fast as Dovizioso, especially when you don’t know the bike and after two big crashes”, wrote Lorenzo.
As for Alvaro Bautista, his stint as Ducati factory rider in MotoGP came to an end at Phillip Island, with the 33-year-old rider returning to his place at the Angel Nieto Team for the last two races of the season, the next being Sepang next weekend, and then for the final round in Valencia.
For Sepang, Ducati hopes that Jorge Lorenzo can be fit in time to race at the Malaysian GP. Lorenzo is still recovering from injury and doing a lot of therapy to be ready in time, but in case he isn’t, Ducati already called their test rider Michele Pirro, to make the trip to Sepang and be ready to replace Lorenzo.