Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista was the teams sole rider this weekend in Aragon, with Loris Capirossi sidelined with a hand injury. And the rookie used the opportunity to put in a stunning performance to claim 8th in the inaugural Aragon Grand Prix.

Having got a great start off the line in 12th, the Spaniard was blocked in the first corner, and was unable to make up the positions he should have and immediately got caught in a 5 rider battle, with all of them fighting for a top 6 finish. Randy De Puniet was quickly dispatched of and then he set about closing the gap to the pack, who had by now made a bit of a gap. Bautista eventually caught Hector Barbera but the straights of Aragon weren’t kind to the Suzuki. On the final lap Bautista passed Barbera, but was then immediately under pressure from Marco Melandri. Bautista kept his wits about him, defending his position to take 8th at the fall of the checkered flag.

After the race, Bautista was a happy man. “I had some great battles out there with De Puniet, Barbera and some other riders and I really had fun during the race.” said Bautista. “At the beginning I had a bit of a problem when I was braking and I felt a lot of moving in the front, so I couldn't keep up my speed entering the corners. I wasn't able to push how I wanted, but luckily after a few laps the bike started to work how I wanted it to – it was much more like the bike I had in qualifying so I was able to find a good rhythm.”

“In the middle of the race the performance started to deteriorate and it was getting very difficult to follow Barbera on the fast back straight. This made it very difficult to overtake him and if I did manage he immediately came back past on that straight, so that made me lose more time on the guys in front and the riders behind started to catch us. I had to fight right until the last corner on the last lap to keep eighth place once I'd got past Barbera, I was forced to close every line and in the very last turn Melandri tried to come past but I was able to block him. Today the bike was probably not perfect because the tyres started to slide from the middle of the race onwards. I fought as hard as I could and eighth is not a bad result, but I certainly think we can do better.

Photo credit: Bridgestone Media