MotoGP, Valencia, Spain
Battling Bautista produces his ride of the yearRizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista, riding with PUIG windscreens, produced the ride of his rookie season at Valencia today to bring his Suzuki GSV-R home in the top-10 after starting from last on the grid.
Bautista and his Crew Chief Tom O'Kane made some big changes to his machine for the morning's warm-up session and the Spanish rider soon reaped the benefits. As the first few laps unfolded there was no evidence of what was to come as he only made up a couple of places - one of which was due to another rider crashing. By lap 19 Bautista had caught a group of four riders, all of whom were battling for eighth place and the impressive Spaniard quickly passed each one of them in the next few laps to move to the front of the pack. Bautista was then constantly challenged for his position as the riders swapped places in the closing stages, but unfortunately he just couldn't hold off Hector Barbera in the final lap. He still managed to bring his bike home in a commendable ninth place, to the applause of the whole team.
Loris Capirossi had another torrid afternoon, as the Italian retired from the race with a mysterious problem at the end of the 13th lap. Up until that point Capirossi had battled hard to make a couple of passes and move up to 14th place, with the riders in front still well in touch. Sadly he had to come back to the pits to signal the end of the race for him, in what was his last appearance for the team. Capirossi was visibly saddened by the way the race ended, but paid tribute to all at Suzuki for three good years together.
Today's race was held in dry but cloudy conditions with track temperatures getting up to 27°C. A crowd of 80,774 spectators were treated to a thrilling race all the way through the field, with home favourite and new World Champion Jorge Lorenzo yet again showing his dominance with another victory, his ninth of the season.
Rizla Suzuki will now stay at Valencia for a two-day test programme on Tuesday and Wednesday. This will be the only post-season test, with the winter ban due to start on the first of December and continue until the start of February next year.
"After having such a difficult weekend with all the problems on Friday and Saturday, today has been a big step for us. This morning in warm-up we went back to a setting that I used in the last races and it quickly felt a little bit better, it wasn't a big difference but I thought it would be good for the race. I wanted to give my maximum in the race and give the team the best result possible today. I had a normal start and made up one position straight away, but then I was behind Loris and I lost some time because he brakes so late and is difficult to pass. When I got past him I pushed to my limit and I got in to a good rhythm - the best I've had all weekend. I caught the group fighting for eighth and I finished ninth at the end, but it was a great battle with the others because I managed to overtake them all and it was good fun. Before the race started if someone said I could finish ninth I would have signed for that, but after the battle with Hector I am disappointed because I think I could have been eighth! It is a good result for the whole team after a hard weekend, but it is not the result I expected before I came to Valencia because I came with the mental attitude to finish in the top-five. Now that we have finished the season we know we have many things that we need to improve on the bike and I also need to improve my riding style, so we have a very hard winter ahead of us - I hope to get to the first race next season with the bike better than it was this year. I will also have more experience so I expect to improve on my results next season.
"I would like to the thank Suzuki, all the team, Rizla and all the other sponsors, because if they didn't help us it would be impossible for us to be racing, so thank-you to all of them. Next year we will certainly be trying even harder and I really believe we can be competitive!"
"I really want to say thank-you to everybody because I have had three really good years here at Suzuki, the relationship is great and I am so sorry to be leaving - I really love everybody! The luck this year didn't really help me, we had many small problems and that showed in today's race. I have improved a lot in myself in my time at Suzuki and although our roads are now changing direction, I will for sure have a place in my heart for Suzuki and all the people there - thank-you for everything!"
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
"It seems that Loris has had a black cloud following him around all season and it came back again this afternoon. On behalf of Suzuki we thank him for maintaining an ultra positive attitude and complete professionalism. We'll certainly miss him!
"For me Álvaro's ninth place was the ride of his season, from 17th - and last - on the grid, then to climb through the field and consistently set lap-times - that if he'd started in the top eight - would have seen him battling for fifth was just superb. Qualifying has been our Achilles heel all year, but we really didn't have the performance in the bike on Friday and Saturday to challenge the other guys, so for Álvaro to take a leap-of-faith today and make such massive improvements was impressive and more importantly very encouraging for 2011. We are now looking forward to the test this week with a lot more optimism, but before that he certainly deserves a beer tonight for his efforts today and I'd like to thank him and all his guys for bringing a breath of fresh air to the team this year!"
GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana Race Classification:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 46'44.622: 2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +4.576: 3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +8.998: 4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) +17.643: 5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +19.160: 9. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +29.451: DNF. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP):
World Championship Classification:
1. Lorenzo 383: 2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 245: 3. Rossi 233: 4. Stoner 225: 5. Dovizioso 206: 13. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 85: 16. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 44: