Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista led the way during Friday afternoon’s second free practice session at Valencia as he took first place on the timesheets at the wet Spanish circuit.
Heavy rain started to fall over the 4,005m Valencian circuit at mid-day and by the time Bautista and the rest of the MotoGP riders took to the track it was fully wet. Suzuki’s Spanish star acclimatised to the conditions well and produced consistent quick laps that consolidated his position at the top of the standings. His time of 1’47.975 was over 0.3 seconds quicker than his nearest rival and he looks to have a good set-up and a confident riding style for Sunday - if this afternoon’s weather replicates itself for the race.
This morning’s practice session started in damp conditions, with Bautista again looking impressive, but as the track started to dry out he found grip difficult to find and finished in 11th place. World Champion Casey Stoner took the honours on the drier track by recoding the fastest time of the day.
Bautista has one more free session this morning followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday’s 30-lap race is the final event of the season and with inclement weather forecast it looks like being a very interesting and entertaining race.
“Today has been a good day for us because we have had a full wet session to get some practice in those conditions. In this morning’s session I had a good feeling at the start, but as the track became drier it wasn’t as good and I couldn’t ride at the limit. The bike moved a lot and was spinning-up all over the track, so it was very difficult. In the second session, after the heavy rain, the track was much wetter and the conditions were a lot worse than this morning for all the riders, so it was essential that you rode smoothly and carefully. We changed some settings in the bike to help me get a confident feeling in the GSV-R and at the end of the session I was able to find a good rhythm. We finished first today and although it’s only the second free practice, you cannot improve as much in the wet as you can in the dry, so this is very good for us. I hope that tomorrow we can make some improvements in drying conditions like we had earlier today, but if it is totally dry we still have plenty of work to do to get ready. I am happy with the first day and looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Winter feels like it has arrived in Valencia and it didn’t look like the most pleasant day to be on a Grand Prix bike out there. That said, cold and low grip conditions were always the situation that caused us the most problems and as we saw at Phillip Island a few weeks back - and again today - the steps that Suzuki has taken with the GSV-R have again proven to be very effective. However, improvements to the motorcycle aren’t enough because you also need a confident and capable rider and Álvaro looked very assured and smooth in the full wet conditions this afternoon – it was nice to see his name at the top of the sheets. I think Álvaro – and everyone else – would prefer some dry, sunny running over the next couple of days, but whatever the weather brings our intention is to push to the maximum and achieve the best result we can.”
GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana Combined Free Practice Classification:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’45.513: 2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.223: 3. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) +0.315: 4. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) +0.560: 5 Loris Capirossi (Ducati) +0.595: 11. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.409: