Questionable scenes and reports about the incidents in Catalonia
What we found most interesting on Saturday was how most journalists read about Alvaro Bautista’s victory in the first race. There was almost unanimous reporting of a lead of a good 8 seconds when he crossed the finish line. The fact that the little Spaniard crossed the finish line more than 11 seconds ahead of his closest pursuers in the penultimate lap due to the superiority of his Ducati Panigale V4R was kept secret as much as possible. In terms of sport, WorldSBK has become a farce, which unfortunately could already be seen in 2019. Only because the Spaniard parted ways with Ducati and only returned two years later after his adventure with Honda did his dominance only continue from last season. How much the highly questionable interpretation of technical regulations by the FIM matters can be seen at a glance when comparing the results with his winless time at the world’s largest manufacturer Honda. Hence the question dear friends: If an athlete only takes ninth place in the world championship in 2020 on competitive material and only comes tenth in 2021, was he therefore doped for his title the year after?
To compare with athletics and cheating on previous WSBK heroes
When Florence Griffith-Joyner went from an average sprinter to the dominant figure in track and field almost overnight in the 1988 season, the rationale for this was perfectly clear to anyone with a brain. Her world records from that year still stood three and a half decades later and the athlete, who died early, was never denied. With Alvaro Bautista, a driver became world champion in the 2022 season, who had only achieved two third places on Honda in the two previous years. This prevents neither commentators nor a majority of pundits and fans from cheering Alvaro Bautista as a sensation for every win. We are happy to give it to the Ducatisti, who were anything but spoiled for success for many years before 2019. Nevertheless, it would be much easier for many to cheer and celebrate his successes with the Spaniard if they came about in a fair way. But there are currently justified doubts and not for the first time FIM and Dorna play a highly dubious role. The manufacturers actually decided to introduce a minimum weight for rider and machine in a democratic vote, as in WorldSSP 600. But Dorna boss Ezpeleta and FIM boss Viegas overturned this decision in a highly undemocratic way using their right of veto. This is a real sports scandal.
The open question about Bautista’s strange increase from 2022
Everyone seems to want to forget why he was never able to fight for victory on the Honda, which is by no means slow. But according to the stats, the little Spaniard now has 43 wins in WorldSBK to his credit. Nobody seems to care that the sprint races are counted in full, in contrast to MotoGP. Just like the fact that the former heroes like Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss, Troy Corser, Colin Edwards, “Nitro Nori” Haga and many others are literally cheated of their achievements. Because in her time there were only 2 races per weekend and no sprint races, which have accounted for a third of the number of World Championship races since 2019. But there are only half points and only for the 9 highest classified pilots. Above all, there was always a majority of drivers who were eligible for victory. We are a long way from that on most routes since 2022 at the latest. Suddenly, with Bautista, a pilot has been beating competitors who had outclassed him during his time at Honda.
The FIM measure primarily hits the wrong people
Even alibi exercises by FIM with a ridiculously small reduction in the maximum speed of the Ducati Panigale V4R by a ridiculously low 250 rpm do not change their superiority. At least this applies to the factory machine, while this measure obviously causes a lot of damage to private teams. When comparing last year’s results for Philipp Öttl (GoEleven Ducati) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing Ducati) with 2023, it is immediately apparent how poorly the two did this time in Barcelona. Back then, just like this season in Phillip Island (Australia), Jonathan Rea looked old on the straights and in acceleration, sometimes against the private drivers of the Reds. In 2022, Bassani fought at eye level with Jonathan Rea on the Circuit de Cataluña and Öttl did sensationally well with sixth and seventh place. But this time there was little sign of that and only the Italian made it into the top ten in 6 races this year. On the other hand, the superiority in acceleration and top speed of the light Bautista did not change at all, even with a maximum speed of 250 rpm less. We had already pointed this out before the races in Catalonia and unfortunately we were right.
The 2023 world champion is already as good as certain
In contrast to the glorious years 2015 to 2020 of Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki, the world championship, which many observers now see as manipulated, has several blemishes. The most important of these is the fact that a pilot can become a serial winner without having to fight hard for it. Mainly related to his lone lead in the intermediate classification after 4 of 12 laps. If you also consider that Bautista is unlikely to face any serious resistance in Portimão, Aragon or San Juan, boredom sets in. Because the three routes mentioned all have endlessly long straights and he used to dominate there almost at will on the Ducati, the last 3 laps are under a bad star for his competition. Therefore, after the first third of the season, hardly anyone should seriously bet on another world champion than the reigning one.
Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).