Rizla Suzuki’s Ãlvaro Bautista finished the second free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix in eighth place this afternoon.
Bautista (P11 overall, 1’31.777, 42 laps) made a consistent progression up the leader board throughout the afternoon session before breaking into the top-10 in the latter stages. He finished only 0.256 seconds from fourth place and Bautista’s fastest time was almost two seconds quicker than his qualifying lap at Phillip Island 12 months ago. He is positive of further improvements tomorrow and convinced the GSV-R will be able to challenge for a good finish on Sunday.
Today’s practice was held in warm and sunny conditions, with clear blue skies covering the 4,448m Phillip Island circuit. Australian Casey Stoner recorded today’s fastest time on his home circuit, as he looks to secure the World Championship in his own backyard.
Rizla Suzuki has one more free practice session on Saturday morning before the hour of qualifying in the afternoon will decide the grid positions for Sunday’s 27-lap race.
“Up until this year this has not been one of the best tracks for the GSV-R and it was quite difficult here for me last year. In the first session this morning I didn’t feel a lot of rear grip, but we changed some things for this afternoon and it made a big difference to the feeling. We also worked on the electronics and altered the mapping for some of the corners to help with rear grip. At the end of the second session with some new tyres there was a big difference than with the used ones. This track has very fast corners and you can feel a difference between new and used tyres here quite a lot. I have done my best-ever lap at Phillip Island today and a 1’31 is not a bad time, but I still feel that we can improve the feeling in the bike and be quite a bit quicker. On the new tyres I can ride normal and with a good rhythm for a few laps, but it soon becomes difficult to exit from the corners and get the grip I need. We have improved a lot from last year and I feel more relaxed on the bike. I am happy with the first day, but will be a lot happier if I can get a good feeling tomorrow like I have had in the last few races, then I’m sure we’ll be in a good position for the race.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“The pace of the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on Phillip Island today is confirmation of how well, and how far, Suzuki has developed the bike since 2010. The character of the track is still not the best for us and Ãlvaro still has a couple of fundamental issues that are holding him back, but to be 0.2-of-a-second from fourth place and in the top-10 in this afternoon’s session is like a dream compared to last year. We still expect a tough weekend and a tough race, but we fully believe we can be in the fight for a decent position on Sunday.”
Iveco Australian Grand Prix Combined Free Practice Classification:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’30.475: 2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.269: 3. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) +0.437: 4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +1.005: 5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) +1.020: 11. ÃLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.302: