HRC have confirmed the signing of Alvaro Bautista for the 2020 WorldSBK season. The Spaniard will be leaving Ducati to join the new factory team run out of Barcelona for next year, to ride the brand new Honda CBR1000RR to be presented later this year.
The news had been widely anticipated. Contract negotiations with Ducati had stalled over money, and HRC was offering to double his current salary. Although the step might seem like a risk given the results of the Althea Moriwaki team this season, there were reasons to take the leap.
Firstly, there is the new team to be based in Barcelona alongside the Repsol Honda MotoGP team, and run under the same program. More direct involvement by HRC should translate to faster response and development.
Secondly, Honda are to debut a new CBR1000RR Fireblade at the Tokyo Show this year, to replace the current model. The new bike is rumored to have a major step in horsepower, making it the most powerful inline four cylinder on the market. How close it will be to the Ducati Panigale V4R's 220 hp remains to be seen.
Below is the press release from HRC announcing Bautista's signing:
HRC Signs Alvaro Bautista for 2020 Official WSBK Team
Honda Racing Corporation announced it has signed on Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista, who will join the company’s official team beginning next season to compete in the FIM World Superbike Championship.
A former 125cc World Champion and a 15-time WorldSBK race winner so far in his debut season, Bautista is a highly skilled, fast rider who will contribute greatly to the development of the HRC project in the Superbike World Championship.
“We are very happy to welcome Alvaro Bautista to our WSBK racing project for next year. His arrival in the Honda racing family underlines our strong commitment to compete at full force in every motorsport category, fighting to achieve top sporting results and looking for the best technological innovations, in order to offer our fans and customers fun, joy and excellent products. Alvaro is a very fast, experienced rider who has already shown his strong racing attitude and competitiveness in his 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.”