Bautista (P15, 1’39.172, 27 laps) improved on yesterday’s lap-time by a second during this afternoon’s qualifying session, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that Spaniard chose to miss this morning’s final free practice session due to the difficult conditions. Bautista improved steadily throughout qualifying and produced his best time on his penultimate lap of the afternoon. He ended the session very tired, but again reported no pain from the femur he broke last month.
Today’s qualifying was held in dry and overcast conditions, with track temperatures reaching 26ºC. The Estoril circuit still had some damp patches around its 4,182m length this afternoon, due to a heavy overnight rainstorm that soaked the circuit making it very difficult for all riders this morning and too dangerous for Bautista to risk taking to the track in his condition. Pole position was set by reigning World Champion and current championship leader Jorge Lorenzo on a factory Yamaha.
Tomorrow’s 28-lap Portuguese Grand Prix is the third round of the season, but will mark Bautista’s 2011 race debut when he takes to the track for the scheduled 13.00hr local time (12.00hr GMT) start.
Álvaro Bautista: “Yet again I am very happy with what has happened today. This morning was a bit disappointing because the conditions were not very good, as the track was not wet, but it was not dry either. We decided not to go out in the third practice because it was too risky and we don’t need to risk anything here this weekend. This afternoon was really my third practice and I was able to start with the same lap-time as yesterday, but my rhythm was a lot more consistent. The track was still a bit damp in parts this afternoon, especially the first and last corners and the track grip was not as good as yesterday, so even though the lap-time was the same it meant that I had improved because the conditions were worse. At the end of the session my feeling had improved so I was able to push a bit more and I was able to go a second quicker than yesterday, so I am very happy about that. I feel a lot more tired today than I did yesterday, I really noticed the extra 15 minutes in the session. I need to recover for the race so I will go to the Clinica Mobile for some treatment and then get some rest. For tomorrow I hope for good weather and my target is to finish the race, I do not care about the position I just want to finish. I know I will suffer because 28-laps is a long way, but it is my target and I want to do it!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“As we said yesterday the effort to be ready to even ride this weekend was brave, but to qualify within two seconds of pole and in front of a couple of other guys is an amazing result. Apart from his injury, Álvaro has also had a lack of time on the bike compared to the guys that have competed in Qatar and Spain, and missing this morning’s session because of the impossible conditions didn’t really help him either. The target for tomorrow is to complete the race, move his fitness on to a higher level and get properly ready for the busy races in June. If we can achieve in the race what we did in qualifying today it would be as good – if not better – than we could possibly have expected.”
Source: Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
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