Alvaro Bautista approached Marc Marquez over Honda WorldSBK switch

Alvaro Bautista reveals he approached Marc Marquez to discuss the merits of leaving Ducati in favour of a move to Honda in WorldSBK

Alvaro Bautista says he sought out MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez when coming to a decision over whether to make the shock switch from Ducati to Honda for the 2020 WorldSBK Championship.

The Spaniard initially dominated on his WorldSBK debut aboard the then-new Ducati Panigale V4 R, winning his first 11 races with the Italian firm. However, his form and consistency thereafter dwindled, allowing Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea to easily overhaul him and ease to his fifth WorldSBK title, much to the chagrin of Ducati.

As relations with Ducati soured, Bautista found himself being courted by Honda which was already in the process of overhauling its Superbike effort with the development of a new Fireblade and the move to Barcelona to be run out the same HRC workshop as its MotoGP team.

The Spaniard was officially confirmed with Honda in September but unable to discuss it until his Ducati contract came to an end at the conclusion of 2019.

Admitting he is taking a leap of faith in switching to Honda given his success – albeit flawed – with Ducati, Bautista says he gave the deal a lot of thought before he accepted, revealing he even approached the team’s talisman Marquez for some insider information.

“I spoke with Marc Márquez about the motorcycle, about Honda,” he said. “He has the street version and he is impressed by the engine although he has less engine than me.

“He says it is solid and very easy to drive. My bike is different from that of Márquez, but the first feelings are positive. Without a doubt, Márquez helped me make the decision . "

“Honda wants to win the World SBK again, the project is very interesting and I believe in it a lot. They gave me a great opportunity to demonstrate my potential and make a winning bike, I have to develop the bike. It is a great challenge for me and I am very motivated.”

Alvaro Bautista breaks silence over new Honda deal

Though the Bautista-Honda speculation seemed to drag on for months, both parties have remained very quiet on the matter until this week when the Honda CBR1000RR-R finally debuted and the Spaniard could remove his contractual gag.

While Bautista has been silent, however, a somewhat bitter Ducati rather loudly proclaimed Bautista was only joining Honda for the money. Regardless of whether that’s true to an extent, there is plenty for the ex-MotoGP to relish in with this new deal

Honda seems very serious about this latest reboot of its WorldSBK set-up. Arguably more than previous generations, the 2020 Fireblade has been developed with racing very much at its core – which explains the power boost that puts it right in Ducati’s range – while HRC is a set-up that certainly isn’t used to losing.

Bautista may be the star signing for a manufacturer needing to prove itself, but given Honda’s newfound resources coupled to the Spaniard’s wobbly second-half to 2019, it might be him- rather than the bike - that needs to prove something come Australia.

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