Alvaro Bautista’s one-year WorldSBK career inside the official Aruba Ducati squad ended after race two at Losail, a season where it went wrong for him after the greatest start possible.
Eleven straight wins was an astounding introduction for both Alvaro and the all-new Ducati V4R Panigale, but when it went awry, it really went awry.
But at least Bautista finished with a final podium, before his sometimes-acrimonious split with Ducati to go and join Honda and another all-new WorldSBK machine.
“It was the only thing I could do,” Bautista told Bikesportnews.com about his final races, a second in the sprint and then third place in race two.
“The feeling with the bike today was a bit better. After warm-up we decided to come back to the set-up I used on Friday, which was our base setting, because on Thursday I had a bit of a problem with grip, with work to improve.
“With this bike you have a very small window and with this bike if you pass one side or the other, you go worse and worse and worse. After warm-up I said, ‘OK, give me my set-up and see what happens in the Superpole race’.
“On Sunday – boom! - a good feeling again. But the problem was that we didn’t work with the race pace on this set-up. I tried to put some pressure to Jonathan but then the tyres were going down a little bit and I felt a lot of problem to stop the bike.
“Especially the rear tyre was sliding a lot and it was very difficult to stop and enter in the corner. In the end it was the maximum I could do. Not bad, but we miss the day we lost on the wrong set-up.”
After such a truly incredible season of first non-stop winning and then eventually too much losing, how does he look back on the year in general?
“I do not think too much about that, I just want to keep my feeling with the bike that I enjoyed a lot, especially in the first part of the season. Also many tracks that unfortunately we had a bit of bad luck. But we were very strong.
“There were two or three tracks in the season where we struggled more, but for the rest we were more or less ready to fight for a victory but then I crashed, or another rider hit me and I crashed.
“I am happy overall because I arrived here without experience, I didn’t know the bike I didn’t know the team the tyres – the team did not know the bike because it was new! So many things to learn so I can say I am happy.”
Bautista clarified his 2019 thoughts even more succinctly, stating, “What I always said is that the first part of the season for me was unreal, to win a lot of races. But also the second half of the season was unreal, because it was impossible to crash and have the problems I had. A strange season but in the end I prefer to kept the positives and look forward.”