Why Redding can still make Ducati WorldSBK regret dropping him for Bautista

Scott Redding still has every opportunity to still win the 2021 WorldSBK Championship... and being dropped by Ducati could be extra motivation he needs

Scott Redding - Aruba.it Ducati WorldSBK

One of the most interesting things about Thursday’s announcement that Scott Redding would be making the sensational switch from Ducati to BMW was that in effect the announcement was made by the man himself.

While you may not think this is terribly significant, in a world of cast-iron clauses, non-disclosure agreements and not mentioning rival brands when under contract with another, it is actually very rare to see comments from a rider in formal prose when they are switching from one manufacturer to another.

It’s the same train of thought that denies many riders from being able to test with the team they are joining until January 1st at the earliest.

Moreover, Redding’s own words were nowhere to be seen in BMW’s official communication as per the norm but he instead used Instagram - where he is particularly prolific - to provide a lengthy quote to express his thanks to Ducati and his excitement at joining BMW.

Reading between (a lot of) lines, though Redding intimates he has chosen BMW over Ducati, paddock rumours suggest he has been dropped because the Italian manufacturer - at least Gigi Dall’Igna anyway - is wearing rose-tinted spectacles at the prospect of securing the signature of Alvaro Bautista instead. 

For a little background on the Bautista situation, the Spaniard was indeed a talisman for half a season with Ducati, his 11 consecutive wins in his first 11 WorldSBK races still a remarkable achievement even before you consider the Spaniard’s form fell off a cliff and into a shower of gravel shortly afterwards.

Then Bautista became frustrated and walked away from a deal to stay with Ducati in favour of a (no doubt very lucrative) deal to join Honda, prompting some rather selective words from Stefano Domenicali on social media that suggested the ex-MotoGP rider was more interested in lining his pockets.

But Ducati and Bautista are seemingly willing to let bygones be bygones, in part because - as crass as it sounds - the Spaniard is big in personality, small in stature… 

However, which Bautista will Ducati be getting in return next season? The ex-MotoGP rider’s form has been average at best on the Honda and has demonstrated he perhaps isn’t the correct man to lead development of a new project. Indeed, the man himself says he doesn’t want to join another team where development is the key factor because he doesn’t want to ‘start over again’.

It remains to be seen how motivated Bautista is for the Ducati ride. He made no secret of the fact he wasn’t enamoured with having to give up MotoGP for WorldSBK in 2019, but at least harnessed that frustration into a devastating run of form at the start of his tenure.

Then the accidents crept in, the confidence dipped and Bautista never really recovered. The same occurred at Honda, where flashes of form were undone by some regular trips into the gravel trap.

Indeed, ironically Bautista does lead one championship battle in 2021 - the Hyundai N Performance standings which gives points based on how many positions you make in a race. That’s the positive spin on that, but look at it the other way it’s essentially rewarding those on quick bikes that qualify badly and have to make up positions in the race.

Why Scott Redding has a good chance with BMW

While Ducati’s rather notorious reputation for managing riders - something that has led to a catalogue of criticisms down the years by the likes of Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Chaz Davies - seems to be at play here, you could sense the honeymoon between man and manufacturer with Redding was already over.

Redding clearly has a lot of talent and on his day is a match for Jonathan Rea, but ‘his day’ often has to tally up with the Ducati being ‘on its day’ too, with certain circuits suiting the Panigale V4 R better than others with an optimum operating window that is much slimmer than Kawasaki or Yamaha. That said, his consistency wavered a touch in 2020 and some sloppy moments have dented his title hopes in 2021.

But it wasn’t through lack of trying and with Ducati looking to the past to end a title drought that now stretches back to 2011 when Carlos Checa succeeded on the Althea Ducati, the affair with bigger, bulkier Redding - ironic given his declarations of love to his now fiancee on the podium in Most last time out - is over.

But back to my original point. Redding’s decision to go public on his Instagram channel smacks of him being dissatisfied at having the choice taken away from him and this is his way of getting his own views across, rather than simply being forced to keep quiet while he waits for phone calls when Ducati announces Bautista instead of him.

As for BMW, well the ingredients have always been there for the German marque to succeed in WorldSBK, even if it hasn’t lived up to its promise as yet. It has been a sobering return to full factory competition for BMW with promising results in 2019 giving way to an anonymous season in 2020, leading to the launch of the new M 1000 RR, which doesn’t seem all that quicker than the S 1000 RR.

Still, the bike should suit Redding more than the Ducati, while Michael van der Mark has shown some impressive race times, even if the bike chews its tyres due to a lack of rear grip out of corners.

In the meantime, Redding is of course not out of the title running with Ducati and as someone who openly admits he has always been forced to prove himself, being shown the exit might be the impetus he needs to rattle off the best races of his career in the coming rounds…

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