Alvaro Bautista feels confident of challenging for Rizla Suzuki's first podium of the season in the season finale at Valencia after qualifying a strong fifth. The Spaniard was quickest of all in Friday's wet session but with dry weather returning on Saturday, the Repsol Hondas took over.
Behind the dominant Casey Stoner, just over half a second covered the next five riders and Bautista feels he can race the men ahead of him whatever the unpredictable weather brings.
“Today has again been a good day for us, despite the very difficult conditions. This morning I felt good in the dry session, because today in the cold conditions we had a good feedback from the bike. In qualifying it was very tough, because we had rain before the session and the track was a bit wet in some parts. I pushed hard from the beginning, but it was raining in some parts of the track and it made it even harder because when you see drops of rain on the visor it’s always against logical thinking to push even more. At the end I did some good laps and got a good rhythm despite the strange weather and made my way to fifth on the grid.”
“I'm quite happy with that because this track is not one of the best for Suzuki and we are all looking forward to tomorrow no matter what the conditions are. Yesterday in the wet we did very well and we have a good setting and if it is dry I think we can stay in the battle for the podium positions. We will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings, but we will push to the maximum in any condition because I want to finish the season with a good result and I think it is possible to get it.”
With the cold conditions usually making life difficult for the Rizla Suzuki squad, team manager Paul Denning was particularly impressed with Bautista's display.
“The conditions for this afternoon's qualifying were really horrible for all the riders. There were strong winds with very low grip and persistent light rain – it certainly meant that all the riders earned their money today! As we have said previously, these sort of conditions have been the worst possible for the GSV-R, but whilst the gap to Casey on pole is very big our level against the other guys looks very good. Congratulations to Ãlvaro on a great effort to qualify fifth, he's been very focused all weekend and irrespective of the conditions, we aim to finish the season on a high tomorrow!”