Alvaro Bautista Confirmed With Honda Factory WorldSBK Team For 2020

HRC have confirmed the signing of Alvaro Bautista for the 2020 WorldSBK season. The Spaniard will be leaving Ducati to join the new factory team run out of Barcelona for next year, to ride the brand new Honda CBR1000RR to be presented later this year.

The news had been widely anticipated. Contract negotiations with Ducati had stalled over money, and HRC was offering to double his current salary. Although the step might seem like a risk given the results of the Althea Moriwaki team this season, there were reasons to take the leap.

Firstly, there is the new team to be based in Barcelona alongside the Repsol Honda MotoGP team, and run under the same program. More direct involvement by HRC should translate to faster response and development. 

Secondly, Honda are to debut a new CBR1000RR Fireblade at the Tokyo Show this year, to replace the current model. The new bike is rumored to have a major step in horsepower, making it the most powerful inline four cylinder on the market. How close it will be to the Ducati Panigale V4R's 220 hp remains to be seen.

Below is the press release from HRC announcing Bautista's signing:

HRC Signs Alvaro Bautista for 2020 Official WSBK Team

Honda Racing Corporation announced it has signed on Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista, who will join the company’s official team beginning next season to compete in the FIM World Superbike Championship.

A former 125cc World Champion and a 15-time WorldSBK race winner so far in his debut season, Bautista is a highly skilled, fast rider who will contribute greatly to the development of the HRC project in the Superbike World Championship.

Yoshishige Nomura

HRC President

“We are very happy to welcome Alvaro Bautista to our WSBK racing project for next year. His arrival in the Honda racing family underlines our strong commitment to compete at full force in every motorsport category, fighting to achieve top sporting results and looking for the best technological innovations, in order to offer our fans and customers fun, joy and excellent products. Alvaro is a very fast, experienced rider who has already shown his strong racing attitude and competitiveness in his GP years and in his first season in the WSBK Championship. We are confident that he will make a significant contribution to the growth and development of our project in the exciting and challenging Superbike World Championship.”


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Everybody is waiting for the v-4 from Honda, at least if you are reading MCN :)


Why would Ducati let Bautista go?  A while back, Mat Oxley did a piece on how Ducati management has treated their riders; it looks like this is just another example. I thought it was just a Ducati thing, but after watching Ferrari mismanage their drivers and maybe  it's Italians. Or Marlboro. Who knows. 

His performance has declined, and he was very expensive at the begining of the season with all of his race win bonuses. They traded up for Scott Redding who is riding the wheels off the Duc in BSB and I'm sure its way less costly for them. 

No disrespect meant to Scott but I don’t think this is a trade up, at least not until Scott’s gone out there and won a good few races. Which I think is far from a given when you look at how difficult it’s been for so many pretty good brits since JR came on the scene. While the bike seemed to be fantastic at the start of the season there’s no denying that AB was stellar and if the wheels hadn’t come off halfway through the season he’d have demolished the championship this year. 

A more steady rider with a more crash free record might have stopped the wheels from coming off.

Not saying that Redding is that rider, Ducati have created a machine that is hard to ride fast but Bautista must share the blame for the collapse.

I actually didnt mean UP as in they are getting a better rider. That's my fault for wording that wrong. I just mean to say they are getting someone with a good bit of experience, former Moto2 World Champ, GP rider, and BSB race winner with the same bike. Redding has been showing up to tracks he's never riden before and winning. So I think its a good gamble for less money for Ducati.

I mispoke! Hes not a former Moto2 Champ. My mistake!

Firstly, Bautista had the contract from Ducati on the table way before he lost the championship lead. He was the one stalling on signing as their offer for him was supposedly substantially lower than what Chaz is getting. Even with the crashes he is still comfortably second in the championship (in his first year in WSBK no less) and mostly way ahead all the other Ducatis. The factory simply dropped the ball on keeping their best chance for a championship with this bike, they probably didn't expect the fierce competition for his services. Honda knew better what he was worth to them.

Secondly, if you really think they "traded up" with Scott, then how would that make sense financially if he keeps winning the same way Alvaro was at the start of this season? Are you supposing they got Scott at an undervalued rate with non-existent win bonuses? I highly doubt Scott would go for such a contract. And either way, I am absolutely certain that Ducati happily pay out win bonuses, that's what they are in the championship for after all. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.

One indirect way to slow up your competitor on-track is to poach your competitor's engineers. I hope for Ducati's sake they do not enter contract negotiations with their motogp technicians with the same mentality that they use with their riders. 

The day you wrote this news came out of Marco Frigerios move to Yamaha from Ducati.

Suspect you know this and I missed the sarcasm...

12 yrs and one scrapped V4 Superbike later, this bike better be good. Winning dry straight fights by mid season sort of good.

What else have the Honda sportbike engineers been up to for a decade? Lawnmowers? You should have clipped the Green long ago.