Another piece in the 2018 rider puzzle has fallen into place. On Monday, the Aspar Team announced that Alvaro Bautista has extended his contract to stay on with the team for another season, and will be riding for them in 2018.
The announcement was hardly a surprise. Despite the fact that the Spaniard had been approached by Aprilia to return to the fold, Bautista was keen to stay with Aspar. His return to the team with which he won the 125 title in 2006 and was runner up in 250s has been a remarkable success. Bautista has consistently made Q2, and finished fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh, and been among the best of what has been an outstanding year for satellite riders.
Bautista will likely be riding a Ducati GP17 in 2018, though that is yet to be confirmed. Who Bautista's teammate will be is still an open question, though Karel Abraham has probably done enough to earn the right to stay.
The press release announcing Bautista's contract extension appears below:
Aspar Team and Álvaro Bautista sticking together for 2018
The Spaniard has already scored four top seven finishes in 2017 on board the Pull&Bear Aspar Ducati
The Aspar Team and Álvaro Bautisa will contest the 2018 MotoGP World Championship together, building on the Spanish rider's first season on board a Ducati with the team in 2017. The foundations of this successful relationship between the two parties was established between 2006 and 2009, which culminated in a 125cc World Championship title and the runner-up position in 250cc.
During the first of the current season Bautista has scored top-seven finishes in four races, including a fourth place in Argentina, a fifth in Italy, a seventh in Catalunya and a sixth at the recent German Grand Prix. As soon as he rode the Ducati GP16 the 32-year-old set top-five finishes as his target for this season and his confidence in the package has already been borne out.
Jorge Martínez, Aspar Team General Manager:“It is good news for the Pull&Bear Aspar Team that we have reached this agreement with Álvaro Bautista: we believe in him and we are enjoying a very strong season. We also have a lot of faith in Ducati, we get great support from the factory and through extending this relationship, together we can improve even more. I hope this year still holds many more high points like the ones we have enjoyed already, and that next season holds even more still.”
Álvaro Bautista: “I am happy to be spending another season as part of the Pull&Bear Aspar Team family. It is a union that can help both the team and myself to grow. We are having a strong season, I have a good relationship with the team and I feel very comfortable on the Ducati and with the support from the factory. I think we can continue to improve and achieve good results.”