OFFICIAL: Alvaro Bautista joins Honda for 2020 WorldSBK season

Alvaro Bautista is officially confirmed as joining the new HRC-supported Honda factory effort for the 2020 World Superbike Championship.

Honda has officially confirmed it has signed Alvaro Bautista to its new full factory World Superbike Championship project in 2020.

The Spaniard’s long-rumoured move from Ducati to Honda has been anticipated for several weeks, not least when it was confirmed he would be replaced by Scott Redding for 2020, with Honda opting to make the contract formal ahead of the final European WorldSBK round of the season in France.

The deal coincides with Honda’s decision to bring its full factory HRC operation to WorldSBK in 2020 with what is expected to be an all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.

“We are very happy to welcome Alvaro Bautista to our WSBK racing project for next year,” said HRC President, Yoshishige Nomura

“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.”

Why is Alvaro Bautista joining Honda in WorldSBK?

Whilst on paper ditching a team you’ve won 15 races with in favour of one that has managed just three top ten finishes in 2019 is mystifying but look behind the headlines (and those cynically pointing at financial incentives) and there is a very intriguing prospect in Honda’s renewed efforts.

Having delegated its WorldSBK representation to satellite outfits in the recent years – Ten Kate, Moriwaki Althea – Honda is pulling in its full factory HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) for an operation that in terms of scale and finance could exceed even Kawasaki.

As Nomura says, by coming into WorldSBK, Honda is positioning itself to win in F1 (Red Bull, Toro Rosso), MotoGP, WorldSBK and even WTCR (touring cars) – the only company that could ever realistically hope to achieve this feat and market it on a billboard.

Though this announcement gives fairly little away – duration and logistics – latest paddock rumours suggest HRC is bring the operation in house to its Spanish base alongside its MotoGP set up. In short, Honda is taking this project very seriously.

Interestingly, Honda makes no mention of the length of the deal indicates this is either a one-year deal or one with MotoGP options for 2021, when the vast majority of the current premier class line-up comes out of contract.

As for Bautista himself, - recent results notwithstanding - he sees all the ingredients of success, while the respect he’d gain from turning Honda’s fortunes around will certainly entice.

There are no guarantees in motorsport, but this can definitely been classified as an ‘educated guess’.

WorldSBK Pirelli French Round, Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours Event Schedule (Times local GMT+1)
Friday 27 September
9:00 - 9:30WorldSSP 300FP1 (Group A)
9:45 - 10:15WorldSSP 300FP1 (Group B)
10:30 - 11:20WorldSBKFP1
11:30 - 12:15WorldSSPFP1
13:30 - 14:00WorldSSP 300FP2 (Group A)
14:15 - 14:45WorldSSP 300FP2 (Group B)
15:00 - 15:50WorldSBKFP2 
16:00 - 16:45WorldSSPFP2
Saturday 28 September
09:00 - 9:20WorldSBKFP3
09:30 - 09:50WorldSSPFP3
10:00 - 10:15WorldSSP 300FP3 (Group A)
10:25 - 10:40WorldSSP 300FP3 (Group B)
11:00 - 11:25WorldSBKSuperpole
11:40 - 12:05WorldSSPSuperpole
12:20 - 12:40WorldSSP 300Superpole (Group A)
12:50 - 13:10WorldSSP 300Superpole (Group B)
14:00WorldSBKRACE 1
15:15WorldSSP 300Last Chance Race
Sunday 29 September
09:00 - 09:15WorldSBKWarm-up
09:25 - 09:40WorldSSPWarm-up
09:50 - 10:05WorldSSP 300Warm-up
14:00WorldSBKRACE 2
15:15WorldSSP 300RACE

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