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Bautista shows early promise at his home Grand Prix

Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista started his home Grand Prix at Montmelo near Barcelona in promising style today before an unlucky crash hampered his preparations after only nine laps.

Bautista (P12, 1’44.692, 20 laps) started the hour session very confidently and was running in the top-three in the early stages. As he began his second run on the Suzuki GSV-R around the 4,727m Circuit de Catalunya, he suffered from a technical issue that caused him to run off the track at high-speed. As he entered the gravel trap he decided to lay the bike down rather than run on into the wall. Bautista sustained no further injuries and was able to continue with the rest of the session when he returned to the pits, but he did aggravate his shoulder injury and will seek further medical advice this evening.

Loris Capirossi and his crew made a major change to his GSV-R and they are sure this is the way to progress as he looks for the best set-up for his machine. Capirossi completed 23 laps and recorded a fastest time of 1’44.641. This was enough for a position just outside the top 10, but the gap between Capirossi and the riders in-front of him was much less than it has been in previous weeks and he is convinced he can close that further still over the weekend.

Today’s belting sunshine made temperatures soar to a sweltering 37ºC, taking track temperatures up to a baking 53ºC. Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo recorded the fastest time of the day.

Rizla Suzuki has one more practice session on Saturday morning, followed by qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday’s 25-lap race is round seven of the MotoGP World Championship, with the action getting underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).

Álvaro Bautista:

“It has been a bit of a disappointing day for me because, at the beginning I started with a lot of confidence and less pain in my arm – I was able to ride like I wanted to for the first time since my accident. The bike felt really good, I was able to control it well through the corners and the package felt much better. I had a nice rhythm going, but on my second run I had a problem in turn four and I wasn’t able to control the bike. I grabbed the clutch, but I ran wide and I had to crash in the gravel because the wall was coming towards me very quickly. After that it was difficult because the other bike had a setting totally different to the one I crashed on. We wanted to try two settings today, but the second one was like a different bike and it just didn’t give me the grip or braking that I wanted. At least we know that the good setting is the first bike I rode today so for tomorrow we will set up both bikes the same. I have to visit the clinic now because I feel a bit more pain after today’s crash and I hope that I will be ok for tomorrow.”

Loris Capirossi:

“Today we started with one bike similar to Assen, but we tried a completely different setting for weight distribution and I have to say that it is better for the front feeling, but still not enough. We are still struggling on some turns and we need to find something to make it work through those as well. We have some ideas, but we also need to work on the engine-brake and traction control to get them right for this circuit. Overall it is not as bad as Assen, but we still need to improve. We are closer to the guys in front of us now and we have to continue working in this way to get even closer.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Our potential seems much better than last weekend, but it’s impossible to go from the back to being completely competitive in one step. The biggest disappointment of the session was Álvaro’s crash – which was no fault of his own. The potential he had shown to get into the mid 44s on his fifth lap indicates that there is quite a lot more to come when he is back on the bike with his favoured setting. Loris and his crew have also made some sweeping changes since Assen and when the setting is refined, there should be some light at the end of the tunnel for both sides of the garage here in Barcelona this weekend.”

Gran Premio Aperol de Catalunya Free Practice Classification:

1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’43.259: 2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +0.153: 3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.372: 4.Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +0.466: 5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) +0.595: 11. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.382: 12. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.433: