The fourth row on the Motegi grid for Alvaro Bautista is a solid starting position for what promises to be an exciting race.
In the two practice sessions ahead of qualifying, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders focused on race pace, taking a lot of laps on used tyres and looking for solutions to take the best advantage of the bike-tyres package for the 24-lap race distance on the Japanese track.
Alvaro Bautista, who crashed without any consequences in FP3, responded by taking the ninth best time in FP4, just over eight tenths from the top time, and standing out for his consistent performance. Therefore, both riders participated in the first qualifying session, putting good lap times on the sheets straight away.
After returning to the garage to change tyres, Bautista and Bradl continued their outstanding performance: Alvaro put the best time on the sheets (an excellent 1’45,614) to go through to Q2, whereas teammate Bradl crashed just a few turns from the end as he was about to achieve the best time.
Q2 proved to be unlucky for Bautista, who immediately had a less than optimum feeling with the front tyre, crashing on turn 9 during his first flying lap. This means that the Spaniard will start from the fourth row with the twelfth best time, just ahead of his teammate.
Their understandable disappointment is accompanied by confidence because of what Stefan and Alvaro have demonstrated throughout the weekend: constant growth that confirms the progress the Aprilia RS-GP has shown in the past few championship rounds.
“The day was certainly positive overall, but it’s a pity about what happened in Q2. Unfortunately, in the first flying lap we decided to change the front tyre and straight away it did not give me the feeling that had been very good during FP4. I crashed without any warning when we could have improved our position on the grid by a few spots. In any case, the changes made today brought results. I was able to maintain a pace of around 1’45.5 even with used tyres in the race distance simulation. The sensations are good. As always we will set our sights on a top ten finish and I am confident that I can do it”.
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