Improved grip helps Bautista to a decent fourth row start
Bautista (P12, 1’34.513, 29 laps) improved consistently throughout the day, and during this afternoon’s qualifying was regularly in the top-10, he produced solid race-pace laps that show he has a chance of being competitive on Sunday. His final time was less than a second from a front-row start and with the injury he is still carrying, and the lack of track-time that he has had on a MotoGP machine around the French circuit, emphasise what a superb performance the Spaniard has produced today.
Dry and sunny conditions again covered the 4,185m Le Mans track and for the second day in succession Honda’s Casey Stoner led the way in both of the sessions and took pole position for tomorrow’s race, but with rain a possibility for Sunday the race could be wide open.
The main event gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 15th May, when Bautista will be looking to continue with the improvement in fitness and hard work – that he has so far shown this weekend – to bring his Rizla Suzuki home in a good points scoring position.
Álvaro Bautista: “I am happy with the work we have done today. This morning we tried a new setting in the bike because yesterday we needed more rear grip when we entered the corners and today we tried to make the bike shorter to help with this. It was the right thing to do because suddenly it felt much better, but the change was made on the old frame, so this afternoon we put the same setting in the new chassis and the improvement was even better. My rhythm was between mid 1’34 and 1’35 all the time and this was easy to do. At the end of qualifying I tried to follow some other guys, but I made some mistakes on my best lap – so I think I can certainly improve on that. We have done a good job today and I am happy with the whole team because they are helping me so much to get the confidence in the bike. If we continue in this way I think we will be at the top of our performance very soon!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Álvaro had done incredibly well to return from injury in Estoril and today in Le Mans he has begun to compete properly and ride with his usual levels of aggression. It’s easy to underestimate the psychological – as well as physical – effects of accidents and injuries, and to come back as quickly as he has – and to such a reasonable level – is very encouraging for the rest of the season. I have to say well done to Tom – Álvaro’s Crew Chief – for sticking to his guns and making the right changes to the bike, which have allowed Álvaro to be a lot more competitive today.”
Source: Rizla Suzuki MotoGP