Álvaro Bautista will start Suzuki’s home Grand Prix at Motegi from the middle of the third row after a consistent and strong qualifying session saw him equal his best MotoGP grid position.
Bautista (P8, 1’46.586, 28 laps) showed great determination to push his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R further up the grid and with just minutes left in the session occupied a second row spot, but he just couldn’t hold on to that position as time ran out and he wasn’t able to better his previous best lap. Bautista worked tirelessly with his crew on a thorough test programme in both the final practice session and this afternoon’s qualifying. He is now convinced he has a good package for tomorrow’s race and believes he will be able to compete with the group of riders that qualified just in front of him today.
Today’s sessions were held under overcast skies with temperatures lower than yesterday. Casey Stoner again led the field to become the first rider in the four-stroke MotoGP era to record 10 pole positions in a season, current champion Jorge Lorenzo was second.
Tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix is the 15th round of the season and the 24–lap race will get underway at 15.00hrs local time (06.00hrs GMT) in front of what promises to be a colourful and excited crowd determined to show its support for their countrymen who suffered in the tragedy that hit Japan early in the year and caused the postponement of the original Grand Prix date.
“With the time I did in qualifying – one-and-a-half-seconds quicker than last year – I would have been in pole position in 2010! This year the level is amazing and the lap-times are very fast, but our performance is also due to the hard work the guys in the Factory have put in, it has made a big difference. This morning we tested different settings in the two bikes, one of which was set a little bit lower to help me in the hard braking parts of this track, but I tried it too late in the free practice so I didn’t have a clear idea which setting was better. This afternoon we started with the lower bike and harder compound tyres, but the feeling was not what I wanted, so I changed to the other bike and it was better. I improved my lap-time at the end, but I got into some traffic on my last laps so couldn’t improve it anymore. Eighth is not too bad and I want to produce a good race for all the Suzuki company and factory guys that are here this weekend supporting us. I will try to get a good start and fight from the beginning, I think the first three or four will be difficult to catch, but after that I think we can be in the battle for the next few positions. We will see what the weather brings and the condition of the track, but I am looking forward to a good race.”
Paul Denning –Team Manager:
“We needed a strong qualifying performance today and Álvaro delivered that. We just didn’t get the timing right on the last run, in terms of track position and traffic, but only half-of-a-second off fourth place on Honda’s home track is a decent result. The first couple of laps will be critical tomorrow and I believe if Álvaro is in the tow with the fastest riders there is a possibility of a very strong result.”
Grand Prix of Japan Qualifying Practice Classification:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’45.267: 2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.256: 3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +0.524: 4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.699: 5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) +0.775: 8. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOTGP) +1.319: