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Superbike, Alvaro Bautista “I don’t think I am the favourite…”

Superbike, Alvaro Bautista “I don’t think I am the favourite…”

The 2023 Superbike World Championship is revving up and with less than 24 hours to go until the first green light of the year, the feeling in the paddock is a special one. What is set to be one of the most action-packed seasons ever is on the horizon, but what did the key stars ahead of the season make of it all? Here are some of the biggest headlines from Thursday’s debriefs

Alvaro Bautista

I don’t think I am the favourite. There are a lot of very fast riders especially in the Superbike Championship. I feel like the #1 is a personal motivation, a personal challenge, so I feel strong to defend the title with the #1. Defending the Championship is more difficult. When you are fighting for the Championship, you go to beat the other riders. Now you are the one to beat. I loved ‘The Return’ because it’s a really nice story from my 2022 but also having some memories from my beginnings, when it was really hard for me to start in the World Championship. I felt a lot of emotion when I watched it every time. I didn’t watch it just once; I watched it many times. It’s very emotional to watch it every time!”

Toprak Razgatlioglu

“I feel the biggest improvement has been corner exit and acceleration, as we need this for 2023. Last year, I felt pressure with the #1 but I’m happy to be back with the #54. The situation is very bad in Turkey at the moment and again, yesterday, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake. I don’t understand why it won’t stop. I hope that this weekend, we can win and maybe I can share my bonus in Turkey. I went for two days to help, and I was sleeping in the car because all the houses were destroyed and there are no hotels. Although you see it on the TV, I directly saw that everywhere is destroyed. It’s not easy for me but I am here and it’s not possible to help.”

Jonathan Rea
The conditions we faced in November where we were very strong are much different to what we face now. Through the winter, we haven’t been able to test with more than 40 degrees on the track and that’s what we’re facing out there with internal tyre temperatures being even higher than normal, so we just need to see. I feel like I can be in the battle for the podium and if we can put a good weekend together, we should be able to at least fight for that, but we still have a lot of work to do. I am looking forward to seeing where we actually are.

Alvaro’s a professional guy and managed 2022 Superbike Championship very well. I know from experience that the #1 is heavy. I had a great season in 2015 and then 2016 was a disaster. Alvaro’s a lot older than I was and he has a great package, so he should be OK. The expectation is to be there; you’re ‘the guy’ and not the underdog and there’s a feeling that you have to keep being there. You’re at the top and the only way is down; that pressure is tough. It almost becomes about the fear of losing again. Sometimes, it can work for you or against, but I’m sure he’s got it all sorted”.