Alvaro Bautista was pleased with the progress being made by the Rizla Suzuki team in 2011 and admitted that he had hoped for better than ninth place.
The Spaniard made good progress with the GSV-R on Saturday morning and felt instantly more comfortable in third practice than he did in the two Friday sessions.
But with wet weather possible for tomorrow, a strong wet set-up may also be required and Bautista feels he is in a good position whatever the great British weather serves up tomorrow afternoon. The 26 year old also revealed that he was expecting for qualifying higher, despite matching his best grid slot of the season.
“Today we have been able to do both sessions in the dry conditions, so that has been good for us to test many things. I started this morning with the same setting as I had yesterday morning and I immediately felt a lot more comfortable today than I did on Friday. We were able to try the bike with a couple of different settings to make it shorter or longer – I preferred the longer set-up because this track has fast corners and you need more stability. I tried the front hard tyre this afternoon because the soft one this morning was a bit difficult to turn in some corners and I was also able to get a good rhythm with the used tyres today, so that is an important thing for the race.”
“I think I could have improved my lap-time at the end, but I got in some traffic and was never able to follow someone faster than me. I am happy being on the third row, but I think our potential is better than that. The weather says it could rain, but I think we have a good setting for that from yesterday. Whatever happens I want to get a good start and get with the group in front and I'm sure I will be able to improve my rhythm and times. I am pleased with what we have done here this year, because in 2010 I had a bad feeling and wasn't even able to put my knee down! This year it is a good sign that the bike has improved so much because I now feel comfortable and confident on it. I think we have made a good step forward and I am looking forward to the race.”
Team manager Paul Denning added that the improved performance of Bautista and the GSV-R had raised expectations within the team, explaining why they were disappointed with a place on the third row.
“It is a sign of Ãlvaro coming back to full fitness that we are all a little disappointed with the third row! We all believe that he and the Suzuki GSV-R could have been in the high 2'03s if we'd found a better track position and put together a slightly better lap. The front few guys are a long way away, but wet or dry we want to be in the fight for the top-six tomorrow and Ãlvaro has the ability to make that happen.
Denning also passed on his best wishes to local hero Cal Crutchlow who will miss tomorrow's race after fracturing his collarbone and suffering a concussion after a crash early in the qualifying session.
“As a UK based team, everyone at Rizla Suzuki would like to pass our wishes for a very quick recovery to Call Crutchlow. It's never nice to hurt yourself, but at your home Grand Prix it must be very upsetting – get well soon Cal.”