Bautista (P17, 1’40.173, 40 laps) has made an amazing recovery to be fit enough to ride at this weekend’s event. The Spaniard showed a true racer’s courage around the 4,182m Portuguese circuit to complete today’s two sessions. After finishing the first free practice session this morning – with a time only three-hundredths-of-a-second behind his best lap-time from last year at Estoril – Bautista made a further step-up in his performance during the afternoon session. He finished the first day’s practice only two-and-a-half- seconds away from the quickest rider of the day – Marco Simoncelli on a Honda – and almost half-of-a-second inside his best time from 2010.
Bautista had no ill-effects from the serious injury he suffered last month and will rest his leg this evening after receiving some physiotherapy from the Clinica Mobile. He is eager to make sure that he is a fit as possible for tomorrow’s final free practice in the morning and the afternoon’s qualifying session and is in a good condition for Sunday.
Sunday’s 28-lap race is the third round of the MotoGP championship and the main event gets underway at 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
Álvaro Bautista: “I am very happy because I think that nobody expected that after little more than one month I would be able to jump on the bike and ride! When I broke my femur my target was to ride here and I worked very hard to make it happen. I did many kilometres every day between Talavera and Madrid, for my visits to the hyperbaric chamber and for the physiotherapy that I needed – now I can say that I am here and I am riding because of that! I am still not 100%, because I need some more power in my leg, but to be able to ride and get a feeling for the bike and the reference points around the track in my mind to be a MotoGP rider, I am certainly fit enough. I went one second faster this afternoon than I did this morning and my feeling on the bike was very similar, I was just a bit more confident so I could push more. I didn’t want to risk anything today, it was all about riding and getting a feeling – I didn’t want to push too hard to find that fast lap-time. I am improving every time I get on the bike so that makes things look good for the rest of the weekend. My leg is a bit stiff now so I will need to recover and get a bit of work on it this evening, but it recovered quickly after this morning’s session, so I don’t think that will be a problem. I think my body is also remembering how to ride a MotoGP bike as well as my mind is, so that is a very positive thing.
“I want to say a big thank-you to all the team for all the confidence they have shown in me. They all know that it is difficult for me to get to my maximum level, but they have given me their full support – so thanks to all of them for that.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Performance is usually only measured by lap-time and position, but today’s performance by Álvaro rates amongst the best we’ve seen at Rizla Suzuki over the last few years. The effort and commitment that he has made to get his body into a good enough condition to ride a Grand Prix bike in such a short time is simply outstanding – he needs to be applauded for his bravery! We didn’t use the softer rear tyre this afternoon, which was undoubtedly the one needed to improve the lap-time, because Álvaro simply concentrated on getting the feeling back and recovering his confidence – we have to remember that the last time he was on the bike was not a particularly pleasant experience! The decision to ride this weekend was wholly Álvaro’s and so far it has proven to be the right one. Today was the first step in his recovery back to a competitive level.”
Source: Rizla Suzuki MotoGP