Alvaro Bautista was encouraged by the performance of his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on Friday at Phillip Island, a circuit which hasn't been kind to the team in the past. The Spaniard was 11th overall but with a gap of just 0.297s to fourth placed Colin Edwards, there was plenty of reason for encouragement.
Bautista still feels he is searching for the optimum set-up for race conditions but is confident of challenging for a top six result if those gains can be made.
“Up until this year this has not been one of the best tracks for the GSV-R and it was quite difficult here for me last year. In the first session this morning I didn't feel a lot of rear grip, but we changed some things for this afternoon and it made a big difference to the feeling. We also worked on the electronics and altered the mapping for some of the corners to help with rear grip. At the end of the second session with some new tyres there was a big difference than with the used ones. This track has very fast corners and you can feel a difference between new and used tyres here quite a lot.”
“I have done my best-ever lap at Phillip Island today and a 1'31 is not a bad time, but I still feel that we can improve the feeling in the bike and be quite a bit quicker. On the new tyres I can ride normal and with a good rhythm for a few laps, but it soon becomes difficult to exit from the corners and get the grip I need. We have improved a lot from last year and I feel more relaxed on the bike. I am happy with the first day, but will be a lot happier if I can get a good feeling tomorrow like I have had in the last few races, then I'm sure we'll be in a good position for the race.”
Team Manager Paul Denning was also delighted to see the progress Suzuki have made since they last raced in Melbourne, when Bautista finished a minute off the lead, and is excited ahead of qualifying.
“The pace of the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on Phillip Island today is confirmation of how well, and how far, Suzuki has developed the bike since 2010. The character of the track is still not the best for us and Alvaro still has a couple of fundamental issues that are holding him back, but to be 0.2-of-a-second from fourth place and in the top-10 in this afternoon's session is like a dream compared to last year. We still expect a tough weekend and a tough race, but we fully believe we can be in the fight for a decent position on Sunday.”