Making his debut in the Superbike World Championship for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team, Álvaro Bautista today achieved a truly extraordinary feat by winning the opening round of the 2019 season with the new Ducati Panigale V4 R. The last time a rookie rider won on his debut was in 2007 and what makes the 34-year-old Spanish rider's win even more remarkable is the fact that it was also the very first race for the bike. Starting from third on the grid after the Superpole, Bautista took control of the race on the opening lap, increased his lead every time around and took the chequered flag almost 15 seconds ahead of Jonathan Rea.
Team-mate Chaz Davies was in a bit of difficulty during the 22-lap race, the Welshman never being able to attack, also due to excessive rear tyre wear, which especially in the final stages forced him to slow his pace and he eventually finished in tenth place.
Tomorrow will see the other two SBK races on the schedule for this first round of the championship; the ten-lap Superpole Race at 12:00 (02:00 CET) and Race 2 at 15:00 (05:00 CET).
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 1st
“This victory has given me such incredible satisfaction and I’m really happy to have won my first World Superbike race! For sure we worked well throughout the winter months and this allowed us to prepare a competitive bike for the first round. Today I wasn’t able to set the pole because I still have to understand how the qualifying tyres work, as they are completely new for me. In the race however I was really confident because I knew I had an excellent pace, and my strategy was to take the lead as soon as possible and then keep a consistent pace. I could see that the gap was increasing lap after lap, even though I was trying to manage the tyre wear, especially towards the end of the race. I’m really happy and I’d like to thank Ducati, Aruba and the guys in my team, now we’ll see if we can keep this up.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 10th
“For me it was rather a disappointing race. Initially I was quite happy and after a good start I more or less maintained the pace with a decent group. Then I suddenly had such a massive drop of rear grip, so much so that I felt like I was riding in sand: we’ll have to look at the data to figure out why it was like that. I know how to manage a race at Phillip Island and I felt like I was relatively conservative for most of the race, but I hit trouble at two-thirds race distance and wasn’t expecting it. It shows we are inexperienced with this new bike; I had a pace that I thought could see us into the top 6 but that wasn’t the case today.”
Marco Zambenedetti (Ducati Corse Track Technical Coordinator)
“Today for sure we did a great job! We are seeing the results of everything we’ve done in the last few years and the fact that we believed in a new project that represents a historic turning-point for Ducati. We knew we could be competitive and we knew we had the technology and the working method to succeed. Álvaro has given us such enormous satisfaction by taking the V4 R to victory, and even though he is a very experienced rider, he is still a rookie in this category. Tomorrow we’ll try and also get Chaz into a condition where he can express his true potential, because we’re convinced that he can. We’ve still got a lot of work to do because despite this first win we’re only just at the beginning.”