Bautista ends MotoGP return at KTM rumours with Honda WSBK deal

Honda has announced Alvaro Bautista will join its factory World Superbike squad in 2020, ending speculation of a shock return to MotoGP with KTM for the current Ducati WSBK rider

Bautista ends MotoGP return at KTM rumours with Honda WSBK deal

Bautista, a MotoGP regular between 2010 and '18, has so far won 15 races in his maiden WSBK campaign with Ducati and took 11 victories in succession.

A spate of crashes wiped out Bautista's title hopes and left him with a 91-point deficit to four-time world champion Jonathan Rea.

While Bautista had looked likely to remain at Ducati, negotiations broke down amid Honda rumours, with Ducati boss Paolo Ciabatti confirming to Autosport last month Bautista had signed a two-year deal with a "rival manufacturer".

Johann Zarco terminating his KTM contract a year early last month led to speculation that Bautista could return to MotoGP with the squad, but Autosport understands from sources close to Bautista that KTM never made an approach.

Ahead of this weekend's French WSBK round at Magny-Cours, Honda has confirmed Bautista will join its works effort in the production-based series next year.

"We are very happy to welcome Alvaro Bautista to our WSBK racing project for next year," said Honda Racing Corporation president Yoshishige Nomura.

"Alvaro is a very fast, experienced rider who has already shown his strong racing attitude and competitiveness in his [Moto]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."

Though Bautista appeared not to be an option for KTM, his signing to Honda in WSBK leaves just current KTM test rider Mika Kallio and Aprilia MotoGP test rider Bradley Smith as the favourites for the MotoGP seat.

Kallio has been brought in to replace Zarco for the rest of the season after KTM elected to drop the double Moto2 world champion with immediate effect following the Misano round.

KTM cited it had "lost hope" in Zarco's fortunes on the RC16 changing after continued negativity over the bike, despite an "outstanding" San Marino Grand Prix event for the rider.

While Kallio's main focus will be development work in these remaining races, it is also thought KTM has put him on the bike as a dress rehearsal for a full-time ride next year.

At Aragon, his first race in over a year, Kallio qualified 19th and took the chequered flag in 17th.

Bautista's move to Honda means ex-Aprilia and Pramac Ducati MotoGP rider Scott Redding will fill his seat alongside Chaz Davies.

Switching to the British Superbike Championship this year after losing his place at Aprilia, Redding has guided his Paul Bird-run Ducati to nine wins and a 14-point lead over team-mate Josh Brookes at the head of the standings.

shares
comments
Valentino Rossi doesn't understand "bad" Aragon MotoGP pace
Previous article

Valentino Rossi doesn't understand "bad" Aragon MotoGP pace

Next article

Vinales: Yamaha power deficit to Ducati halted Aragon MotoGP podium

Vinales: Yamaha power deficit to Ducati halted Aragon MotoGP podium
How MotoGP riders are preparing for the physical stress of sprint races Plus

How MotoGP riders are preparing for the physical stress of sprint races

With the expansion of the calendar to 21 grands prix and the introduction of sprint races, the 2023 MotoGP season will take the riders to almost 1,300 kilometres of competition more than this year, a factor that forces adjustments in their physical preparations.

The Ducati rider who is much more than just the brother of a MotoGP legend Plus

The Ducati rider who is much more than just the brother of a MotoGP legend

Surname pressure is something many have had to deal with in their motorsport careers. And while Luca Marini doesn’t have that, his familial relation and the team he rides for in MotoGP have cast a brighter spotlight on his progress. But, as he has shown in 2022 – and as he reveals to Autosport – Marini is so much more than just the brother of a legend

MotoGP
Dec 6, 2022
Ranking the top 10 riders of MotoGP 2022 Plus

Ranking the top 10 riders of MotoGP 2022

The 2022 MotoGP season was another hotly contested championship, with Francesco Bagnaia emerging as the title winner after the campaign went to the wire. Autosport picks out the 10 best performers of the season

MotoGP
Nov 29, 2022
Was the MotoGP 2022 title won by Bagnaia or lost by Quartararo? Plus

Was the MotoGP 2022 title won by Bagnaia or lost by Quartararo?

Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo had a 91-point lead over rival Francesco Bagnaia after the German Grand Prix, a seemingly impregnable gap to overcome in the remaining 10 races. But as the Frenchman struggled for pace with his Yamaha, Bagnaia stormed back into contention and swept to Ducati's first riders' title since 2007

MotoGP
Nov 25, 2022
Why there's more to Honda's 2023 MotoGP bike than the Valencia test suggests Plus

Why there's more to Honda's 2023 MotoGP bike than the Valencia test suggests

After a run on Honda's 2023 prototype MotoGP bike, six-time champion Marc Marquez made his pessimism clear with his initial reaction. But the Japanese marque has made leadership changes behind closed doors - and a more representative bike promised for the Malaysia test in February could placate Marquez

MotoGP
Nov 23, 2022
Why the new MotoGP world champion has a stronger character than it seems Plus

Why the new MotoGP world champion has a stronger character than it seems

While new MotoGP champion Francesco Bagnaia might not be the loudest rider on the grid, his calm exterior belies a steely backbone. His part in turning around Ducati's fortunes at the start of the year, when displeased with a new engine concept, shows the strength of his character

MotoGP
Nov 16, 2022
Why Bagnaia's MotoGP triumph is as worthy as Stoner's Ducati breakthrough Plus

Why Bagnaia's MotoGP triumph is as worthy as Stoner's Ducati breakthrough

OPINION: Despite the superiority exhibited by the Ducati in 2022, the context in which Francesco Bagnaia became MotoGP world champion means that both the rider and the Italian marque merit the same recognition that the brand and Casey Stoner received after their 2007 title

MotoGP
Nov 9, 2022
Why the 2022 MotoGP season had a bittersweet ending Plus

Why the 2022 MotoGP season had a bittersweet ending

OPINION: MotoGP’s fifth last round showdown of the modern era delivered a tense finale despite the predictable outcome, as Francesco Bagnaia ended 15 years of pain for Ducati. But as emotions ran high for the Italian marque, a final victory for a departing Japanese rival tinged the campaign’s conclusion with sadness

MotoGP
Nov 7, 2022