Alvaro Bautista is in confident mood after setting the pace in the torrential conditions on Friday afternoon at Valencia, and feels he can still make improvements if the wet weather remains. The Spaniard edged out Nicky Hayden to lead the way, giving the Rizla Suzuki team a welcome boost despite their uncertain future.
The Spaniard felt happy with the performance of the GSV-R and feels there is still more pace to find, but admits he would prefer dry conditions tomorrow to get ready for qualifying.
“Today has been a good day for us because we have had a full wet session to get some practice in those conditions. In this morning's session I had a good feeling at the start, but as the track became drier it wasn't as good and I couldn't ride at the limit. The bike moved a lot and was spinning-up all over the track, so it was very difficult. In the second session, after the heavy rain, the track was much wetter and the conditions were a lot worse than this morning for all the riders, so it was essential that you rode smoothly and carefully. We changed some settings in the bike to help me get a confident feeling in the GSV-R and at the end of the session I was able to find a good rhythm. We finished first today and although it's only the second free practice, you cannot improve as much in the wet as you can in the dry, so this is very good for us. I hope that tomorrow we can make some improvements in drying conditions like we had earlier today, but if it is totally dry we still have plenty of work to do to get ready. I am happy with the first day and looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
Team Manager Paul Denning paid tribute to Bautista for his performance in tough conditions and believes he will be competitive whatever the weather brings for the rest of the weekend.
“Winter feels like it has arrived in Valencia and it didn't look like the most pleasant day to be on a Grand Prix bike out there. That said, cold and low grip conditions were always the situation that caused us the most problems and as we saw at Phillip Island a few weeks back – and again today – the steps that Suzuki has taken with the GSV-R have again proven to be very effective. However, improvements to the motorcycle aren't enough because you also need a confident and capable rider and Ãlvaro looked very assured and smooth in the full wet conditions this afternoon – it was nice to see his name at the top of the sheets. I think Ãlvaro – and everyone else – would prefer some dry, sunny running over the next couple of days, but whatever the weather brings our intention is to push to the maximum and achieve the best result we can.”