Bautista has been undergoing intensive physiotherapy to make sure he is at a sufficient level of fitness to be able to take to the track on Friday – following a full medical to determine his ability to compete. If he is unable to ride at a competitive level, Rizla Suzuki will have Factory test rider Nobuatsu Aoki on stand-by to take over if he has to withdraw from the event – but Bautista’s clear target is to compete in the Grand Prix.
Rizla Suzuki’s GSV-R will feature a new logo in Estoril – ‘Change and Challenge’ – which is used by Suzuki in the Asian regions to promote its new range of motorcycle products in these markets. Rizla Suzuki hopes to engage with the enthusiasm and passion of all MotoGP fans in these areas and it appreciates all the support of Bautista as he undertakes what is certainly a huge ‘challenge’ in his comeback from serious injury.
The Estoril circuit is a track of contrasts, where some fast corners in its 13-turn configuration mix with an almost kilometre-long straight and one of the slowest sections of the year. Situated on a rocky outcrop high above the towns of Estoril and Cascais, the circuit is only six kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean and this can give rise to some very changeable weather, a fact that was emphasised in 2010 when torrential rain caused the cancellation of the qualifying session.
Bautista plans to take to the track on Friday morning for the first of two free-practice sessions. Saturday will see a final practice in the morning, followed by an hour-long qualifying session in the afternoon where he aims to be qualifying for the best grid position he can obtain. Sunday’s race is round three of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship and the 28-lap race gets underway at 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
Álvaro Bautista: “I have been working very hard to be back in time for Estoril and I believe I will be able to take part in the race. I know it will be difficult, but I think the sooner I can get on the bike the more it will aid my total recovery and help my way to full fitness. I have travelled over 4,500km with many journeys to the hyperbaric chamber in Madrid to assist with my healing – I have been there so many times I could close my eyes and go without problems! I have now finished the rehabilitation phase and started on the physical preparation; this involves a lot of swimming, cycling and other fitness programmes to build up the strength so I can ride again. It is going to be really tough, but I am totally focused on being on the GSV-R in Portugal, it’s all I can think about at the moment and that is my first goal. After that we’ll see what happens and take everything one step at a time.”
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