Is Alvaro Bautista angling for a MotoGP return with Honda?

WorldSBK rider Alvaro Bautista says he'd be keen on a return to MotoGP next season with Honda if he is called up to do so

Alvaro Bautista - HRC Honda CBR1000RR-R

Alvaro Bautista says he would take an opportunity to return to the MotoGP World Championship with Honda if he is called up to do so after joining the manufacturer in the WorldSBK Championship.

After nine seasons in MotoGP the Spaniard switched to WorldSBK in 2019 with Ducati, winning 11 consecutive races out of the box but losing out on the title to Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea.

Moving to Honda over the winter to spearhead the manufacturer’s renewed effort with the new CBR1000RR-R superbike, he reveals his two-year contract is with the manufacturer directly and therefore not necessarily restricted to competing in WorldSBK.

With this in mind, Bautista says he wouldn’t decline the chance to return to MotoGP if he was asked.

“I am a Honda rider and I have no clauses with them,” he told Radio Marca. “If they want me in MotoGP, I am there and I will not pull back.”

Discussing a tricky opening round that saw him post a pair of top six results but suffer two sizeable crashes in qualifying and the Superpole Race, Bautista admits it wasn’t the strongest start to life as a Honda rider but he says the promise is there.

“With the CBR1000RR-R I hoped to have other sensations. Certainly in Australia it did not go well, but this is a new project. At the time I signed, there was no bike, let alone the team but what matters is the trust I have shown towards the company. 

“In Phillip Island I struggled at the beginning but then I managed to promise and show greater competitiveness over the weekend.”

What are Alvaro Bautista’s chances of returning to MotoGP?

It’s fair to say Bautista wasn’t enamoured by the prospect of switching to WorldSBK in 2019 and has made no secret of the desire to return to MotoGP in the future, albeit only under the right terms.

His chances might have been significantly improved had he been able to carry his momentum from the start of 2019 all the way to the title, but one could see there may be more opportunities to return to MotoGP with Honda than with Ducati.

Though the coronavirus means all bets may be off when it comes to working out who will ride where in 2021, previously there remained question marks over whether Alex Marquez can live up to the status of his Repsol Honda ride.

More likely, however, could be a spot in the LCR Honda team should Cal Crutchlow go ahead and call time on his career as he has hinted.

However, if he does that then Takaaki Nakagami – who has impressed on year-old machinery over the last 12 months – is a likely shoo-in to take his spot on a current-spec Honda RC213V, meaning it could leave Bautista pedalling a year-old bike, which would not necessarily appeal either.

Either way, when WorldSBK does return to action Bautista will need to up the pace to at least get the better of Leon Haslam having been outperformed by the Briton in pre-season testing and Phillip Island.