Catalunya WorldSBK: Jonathan Rea: ‘Atmosphere has soured’ with Alvaro Bautista, ‘I have to fight so hard’ | World Superbikes

In what was by far the biggest incident of the 2022 WorldSBK season thus far, Rea and Bautista’s coming-together in race two at Magny-Cours resulted in reigning champion Toprak Razgatlioglu taking a comfortable second win of the weekend.

But while it was a missed opportunity for Bautista, who had shown the pace needed to fight Razgatlioglu throughout the weekend, the bigger impact was to his championship lead after a near 60-point advantage was reduced to 30. 

Strong words were used by both in the aftermath, especially from Bautista as the Spaniard called Rea ‘not a real champion’.

And having time to let things settle, animosity remains there as Rea alluded to the atmosphere between them being ‘soured’ as a result of the comments made from Bautista and Ducati.

“On the incident with Bautista, from my side, nothing will change because I have to fight so hard to be there in this incredible battle right now with two other strong rivals, but of course the atmosphere has soured a bit with a lot of things being said in the aftermath and in the heat of the moment,” said Rea. 

“There’s a point when you’re overtaking a rider and in this kind of instance, there’s a point of impact and you have to brace as the guy on the inside; this was the clear movement, not an intentional punt. 

“He knows this. Right now, the championship is so competitive with different manufacturers that we need to step up; the team know that and we’re working really hard to try and do that.”

Perhaps not helping the situation, Rea was seen following Bautista very closely during today’s FP1 session in Catalunya before attempting an overtake at turn ten.

The Kawasaki rider ran wide as a result as Bautista ultimately got back ahead. 

Having his say on the matter heading into the weekend, Bautista said the past will remain the past, although ‘Jonathan and I were not the best of friends’ anyway. 

Bautista added: “There’s no special relationship; he told me his point of view and I told him mine, but that’s all. Races are races and the past is the past. Jonathan and I were not the best friends of the paddock so the relationship will stay the same! 

“Sincerely, the approach for the final part of the season doesn’t change for Toprak’s points gap; I know the last three rounds have been the most difficult tracks. I have to be focused, try and do my best and I think the next tracks will be nice for us. “I’m quite calm and focussed on the bike and my work.” 

Bautista ‘happy’ to see Rinaldi remains his WorldSBK team-mate in 2023

Between the Magny-Cours round and Catalunya, Aruba.it Ducati confirmed Michael Ruben Rinaldi as their second rider for the 2023 WorldSBK Championship, a move Bautista is very happy with.

“For Michael staying, I’m so happy for him,” stated Bautista. “He’s a very talented rider, he’s very young and improving a lot during this season. 

“He had a difficult start but then began being more consistent and competitive; we have a similar riding style which is easier for the engineers, so I am happy for him, and I look forward to fighting in the next races and next year for victories with him.”

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