The MotoGP World Championship returns to Europe after the first three races of the season this weekend, with a new name on top at... Alvaro Bautista seventh on opening day at Jerez

The MotoGP World Championship returns to Europe after the first three races of the season this weekend, with a new name on top at Jerez. Dani Pedrosa was the fastest man of the day by far, more than half a second ahead of Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow on a day that started with rain but ended with radiant sunshine on the Andalusian circuit.

Jorge Lorenzo is the top Ducati in fourth place, a tenth faster than Danilo Petrucci and with Maverick Viñales sixth. Series leader Valentino Rossi started the Spanish Grand Prix in 12th place, 1.2 seconds behind.

Álvaro Bautista opened his home round in seventh position, with a best time (1:40.392) set on the second-to-last of his 21 laps during second free practice, the only sunny session of the day.

The Pull&Bear Aspar rider was the last man to lap within a second of the leader, although he recognises that he did not feel total confidence on the bike because there were still wet patches on the track.

Bautista ended the first day feeling positive and intent on continuing to improve at Jerez.

7th Álvaro Bautista 1:40.392 (35 laps):
“It’s been a weird day. In wet conditions I have not felt very comfortable, I was missing a bit of contact with the rear wheel and I have not been able to enjoy everything I would have liked. In the afternoon with the dry track there were still some damp sectors. In the end I felt very good with the bike, happy with the feeling, although it was a little difficult to test the tyres, especially the front, because I did not have much confidence in the wet patches. We always rode with the soft, maybe it was too soft in the end. The bike became a bit unstable and I had trouble getting into the corners. In short, we finished the first day with positive feelings, but looking forward to continue improving tomorrow. “