until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Wildcard audition? Ducati hands two-day MotoGP test to Bautista

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Ducati has arranged a two-day MotoGP test for its World Superbike dominator Alvaro Bautista – and a wildcard outing does not seem to be out of the question.

Bautista, who concluded a nine-year MotoGP career in 2018, switched to WSBK the following year and won his first title in the category last season. He is well and truly on course for a second crown in 2023, having won a ludicrous 14 of the 15 races so far.

The 38-year-old had long admitted an interest – and a seeming opportunity – to have some time on a premier-class machine again, and acknowledged recently to the official World Superbike website that a test would be coming “soon”.

It has now been rubber-stamped for June 20-21 at Misano, during the current WSBK break in action and between the MotoGP rounds at the Sachsenring and Assen.

In the WSBK interview, Bautista said: “I don’t do the test with the intention of a wildcard. I would like to do the test and let’s see what happens here.”

 Dsc3166 Uc508495 High

Yet that seemingly leaves the door open to racing if the speed is there, and Bautista admitted last year in a Speedweek.com interview that he indeed had aspirations of a wildcard outing.

The fact it is a two-day test is also curious – it could just be a sign of appreciation for Bautista, but also a hint that Ducati wants to properly evaluate his performance.

Given there are no concession manufacturers in MotoGP as well, each of the five is allowed three wildcard races.

Ducati’s regular tester Michele Pirro has already had starts at the Circuit of the Americas and Mugello, and is set to run at Misano as always.

However, Pirro’s COTA start was in the status and colours of a Ducati factory rider rather than a wildcard as he served as the stand-in for the injured Enea Bastianini.

And the Ducati test team, which is sponsored by the same Aruba.it backer that is the title sponsor of its WSBK effort, already acknowledged at Mugello that “the team will also be present in Misano for the San Marino Grand Prix and the Riviera di Rimini, and to a third round that will be announced shortly”.

 Ap15827 Uc509441 High

That “third round” doesn’t necessarily have to be Pirro’s. And with Bautista having namechecked Barcelona as his preferred wildcard outing last year, it is convenient that the Catalan Grand Prix this year does not clash with a WSBK round.

Of Bautista’s 158 starts in MotoGP, only one came as a Ducati factory rider – when he was the stand-in for an injured Jorge Lorenzo at Phillip Island in 2018.

It was a brilliant outing, too – perhaps the best of Bautista’s MotoGP career – as he adapted to a newer-spec Desmosedici on short notice and claimed a fourth-place finish after a race spent at the front.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks