Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista crashed out of this afternoon’s Japanese Grand Prix when he was fighting for the best MotoGP finish of his career.
Bautista started from eighth on the grid and found himself up into sixth early on after narrowly missing two riders that collided in front of him on the first lap. He was then promoted to fourth as two other riders were forced to complete a ride-through penalty for jumping the start, and then almost immediately found himself in a podium position when race-leader Casey Stoner ran off the track. Bautista held third position for six laps and fought off an attack from Nicky Hayden, before Stoner re-grouped and caught and passed Suzuki’s Spanish racer. Bautista looked comfortable in fourth and began to push to secure his best-ever MotoGP finish, but lost the front near the end of the 13th lap and crashed at high-speed. He walked away uninjured, but bitterly disappointed.
Today’s Japanese Grand Prix was a re-scheduled race after the initial date was cancelled due to the earthquake and tsunami that struck the country earlier in the year. A crowd of just over 34,000 showed their support for both the MotoGP racers and the people of Japan. The race was won by Dani Pedrosa, with current World Champion Jorge Lorenzo second. Current championship leader Stoner took the final place on the podium.
Rizla Suzuki now has one weekend off before heading over the equator to Phillip Island in Australia for the second leg in a trio of Pacific races.
“This was for sure not the result we expected today! I chose the softer rear tyre for the race because the conditions today were colder than yesterday and because for the first laps I needed to be as fast as possible. I didn’t get a good start because some riders jump-started and I was a bit confused by them and when the red light went off I was little bit late. There was a crash on the second corner and I then found myself in a good position. A few laps later some riders entered the pits because they did a jump start and I was then in third, but I knew it was not my real position! When Casey went past me and I saw what the distance was between me and Andrea – who was the next rider – and how many laps were left, I tried to follow Casey and keep the gap to Andrea. Near the last corner I lost the front and crashed and that was the end of the race for me. We worked very hard this weekend and improved in all the sessions, and in the race we were in a good position. Today the luck was just not with us!
“I am sorry for the whole team because this result would have meant so much to them, and I’m sorry for Suzuki at its home Grand Prix because we wanted to make a good race and a positive result. I have to keep the good things from this weekend in my mind and in the next race we have to keep doing the same things we have done here and keep our heads up!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“When your rider crashes out of fourth position at Suzuki’s home Grand Prix it can only be described as disappointing! However, we have to take the positives from this weekend – the GSV-R performed well in cold and overcast conditions, Álvaro achieved his equal best qualifying and we were running very strongly in the race itself. We don’t quite have the speed of the Factory Hondas or Yamahas – at the moment – but apart from that we can race with anyone in the field, and when the opportunity presents itself – like today – fourth was definitely on the cards.
“Álvaro’s not stupid and with just over 10 laps to go, and Dovizioso only seven seconds behind, he knew he had to push hard to keep fourth place – fifth or sixth wasn’t going to do it as far as he was concerned. That’s racing; it was a high-speed crash and Álvaro’s completely uninjured, so let’s move on and look forward to the next Grand Prix.”
Grand Prix of Japan Race Classification:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 42’47.481: 2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +7.299: 3. Casey Stoner (Honda) +18.380: 4. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) +23.550: 5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +23.691: DNF. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP):
World Championship Classification:
1. Stoner 300: 2. Lorenzo 260: 3. Dovizioso 196: 4. Pedrosa 195: 5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 156: 12. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 67: