Rizla’s Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista crashed out of this afternoon’s Australian Grand Prix during a sudden rain-shower as he looked certain to claim his best dry finish of the season.
Starting from third on the grid, due to Jorge Lorenzo’s withdrawal because of an injury he sustained in this morning’s warm-up, Bautista was immediately involved in the battle for a podium position. He got into a fight with Nicky Hayden that cost the pair some pace and by the time Bautista got past the American, Valentino Rossi had caught them to make it a three-way battle. Rossi tried to make a pass on Bautista, but crashed, causing the Suzuki star to take avoiding action. Bautista made a break from Hayden and looked to be heading for a season’s best dry result of fifth, but as the laps wore on the rain clouds gathered and a brisk, but heavy rain shower caught out the Spaniard and he crashed with only four laps remaining. He was uninjured, but bitterly disappointed to see the opportunity slip away.
Almost 44,000 fans packed into a very windy and changeable Phillip Island circuit and the majority of them left happy as they witnessed local hero Casey Stoner secure the World Championship with a comprehensive victory.
Rizla Suzuki now heads directly to Malaysia for the penultimate round of the season, where Bautista will be joined by wild-card rider John Hopkins to mount a two-man attack at the Sepang circuit.
“It was a good, but in the end disappointing race for us today. We didn’t start so well, but I was with the front group and very close to the podium battle. After a few laps, when the tyres started to lose their grip, I started to fight with Nicky and we lost time to the others. After I got away from Nicky I tried to concentrate to get the most from the used tyre and do my best. I just had to finish the race to get a fifth place, which would have been a good result here. The conditions were difficult though because during the whole race it was raining in some parts of the track and each lap seemed different. In turn 10 I saw some drops of rain on the screen and before I could even think to react I crashed - the surface was very wet and I just couldn’t do anything about it!
“I am sorry for the whole team because they did a fantastic job for the whole weekend and we started from the front row for the first time this year. We were in fifth in the race and looking good, so I’m really sorry for the crash – those guys deserved something from this weekend. We now have to look forward to the next race and take all the positives from here to Malaysia and I’m sure we can go well there.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“There are so many positives to be taken from this weekend at Phillip Island, that it’s really unfortunate to be making another ‘if only’ comment! Álvaro had no idea that it was raining that hard and with no rider directly in-front of him it just looked like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time! It’s really unfortunate for all of us, but the promise shown by the GSV-R was huge and I think the race-pace potential could have been a lot better if we hadn’t have got hung up with Nicky for four or five laps, and allowed the Hondas to escape.
“Malaysia’s next, it’s been a good track for Suzuki in the past, we’ve got John Hopkins joining the team and a chance to have another go at a decent result – we’re looking forward to it!”
Iveco Australian Grand Prix Race Classification:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 42’02.425: 2.Marco Simoncelli (Honda) +2.210: 3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +2.454: 4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 13.160: 5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +30.886: DNF: ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP):
World Championship Classification:
1. Stoner 325: 2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 260: 3. Dovizioso 212: 4. Pedrosa 208: 5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 156: 12. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 67: