Alvaro Bautista to leave MotoGP for Ducati World Superbike team

Alvaro Bautista will leave MotoGP after nine seasons, switching to World Superbikes with the factory Ducati team for 2019

With Yamaha's new satellite team SIC Racing taking over Bautista's current team Nieto Ducati's MotoGP entries next year, the 33-year-old's hopes of remaining in the premier class hinged on joining Franco Morbidelli at SIC.

But despite Bautista's form picking up lately after a difficult start to 2018, SIC Racing has preferred to promote Fabio Quartararo from Moto2.

Bautista's MotoGP exit was made official on Thursday, with confirmation he will ride Ducati's all-new Panigale V4 for its works WSBK operation next year.

"In the last races many people asked about my future - I didn't decide because my idea was to remain in MotoGP, because I spent 16 years here [in grand prix racing]," he said.

"But for sure this season has been very special because after two or three races, 80% of the grid for next season was closed.

"In that moment my performance was not what I expect, I felt a lot of problems with the bike so I couldn't go fast as in the past, as I wanted.

"So, when I started to feel good with the bike, started to be more competitive and show my potential, there was no more places in MotoGP for next season.

"For me next season will be a new challenge because I will move after 16 years and I will do the World Superbike with Aruba Ducati.

"I'm so motivated, it's a new challenge for me. The confidence that Ducati put in me is really good, and together we are really strong, we can get good results there and have good fun."

Bautista has made 150 MotoGP starts since stepping up to the premier class with the factory Suzuki team in 2010.

He recorded three podiums and a pole position after joining Gresini Honda from Suzuki and remained with the outfit when it became Aprilia's works team, before losing his ride and signing with Nieto (then Aspar) last year.

Bautista will replace his former Aprilia MotoGP team-mate Marco Melandri in Ducati's WSBK line-up, slotting in alongside Chaz Davies.

Melandri was drafted in as replacement for Davide Giugliano at Ducati in 2017 and has won three races since joining the team.

But the Italian has struggled to match Davies, having finished fourth to the Welshman's second in last year's standings and trailing him by 85 points in the current season.

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