Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista finished the first day’s practice for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in ninth place on overall times after two very contrasting sessions.
This morning’s first free practice was held in dry, but very windy and cold conditions and saw Suzuki’s Spanish star perform solidly to record the ninth fastest lap with a time of 2’06.274 from his 18 laps around the 5,902m English circuit. This afternoon saw a completely different surface as heavy rain shortly before the start of the practise soaked the track. Bautista quickly got to grips with the wet conditions and was consistently well placed within the top-10, before ending the second free practice with a best lap of 2’20.337 and eleventh place on the timesheets.
Bautista completed one long run of 17 laps during the afternoon session to test the durability of the Bridgestone race tyres on the abrasive Silverstone surface and gather as much information as possible should the conditions repeat themselves on race-day. He had to finish the session slightly early as his Suzuki GSV-R became low on fuel. Without doing this he would surely have been pushing for a top-five slot as other riders did their quickest laps right at the end of the session. With such differing weather conditions today all the fastest times were set in this morning’s dry session, with Honda’s Casey Stoner recording the quickest time of the day.
Bautista and Rizla Suzuki have one more free session tomorrow morning before the afternoon assault on qualifying to get the best grid position for Sunday’s 20-lap race, which is scheduled to get underway at 13.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
“Today has been a good day to test in the wet and the dry. I felt very good right from the beginning of this morning’s session and tried a different setting in one of the bikes, but it didn’t quite work so we went back to the other bike to try and get less movement in the bumps. We decided that this afternoon we would start with the standard setting, but it started to rain so we began the session with what we had in the wet warm-up in Barcelona, because there I had good grip and feeling. This was the first time I have ridden here in the wet and step-by-step I was getting more confident as the time progressed. Each lap my time was improving by about half-of-a-second or more, but at the end – as the track started to get quicker – I had to stop because I didn’t have enough fuel, so I lost a few positions. This doesn’t matter though because I am happy and during the practice I was always in fifth or sixth position and I know we have a good wet set-up. We will have to see what the weather will do for the rest of the weekend and I think we are well prepared for any type of conditions.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Despite the weather’s best efforts it hasn’t been a bad day here at the new-look Silverstone. The dry practice this morning was cold and the grip levels were down, but the bike seemed to perform quite well and Álvaro got good feedback. This allowed him to be reasonably competitive and get a good starting point for the weekend. The wet performance was very encouraging, he was consistently in the top five or six, but unfortunately we had to bring the GSV-R in for fuel with only a couple of minutes of the session remaining. This meant he lost the opportunity to better his time when the track was obviously getting a lot faster right at the end. The position today really isn’t important and we’ve made a solid start to the weekend and if it’s wet or dry we’re all looking forward to tomorrow.”
AirAsia British Grand Prix Free Practice Combined Classification:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2’03.748: 2. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) +0.659: 3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +1.008: 4. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) +1.030: 5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +1.162: 9. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOTGP) +2.526: