MotoGP 2010 rookie Álvaro Bautista has admitted that he is experiencing the inevitable growing pains of having stepped up to the premier class at a time when testing is very much at a premium – but whilst he admits he still has 'a lot to learn', the Rizla Suzuki ace has set himself a target of reaching the maximum of his capabilities by mid-season.
Having graduated from 250cc in 2010 – with eight victories in three years in the 'feeder' class – Bautista has twice qualified 13th in the opening two races in Qatar and Spain, and though he would take an early bath in the Losail night-time curtain-raiser, the Spaniard claimed a top ten finish at Jerez to get himself off the mark.
One factor in his favour is the presence of Loris Capirossi
– a man with a record-breaking 301 grand prix starts beneath his belt – across the other side of the garage – but whilst Bautista acknowledges the ultra-experienced Italian's input has been a real boon, he insists that it has still been far from easy.
“MotoGP is very, very difficult,” he told Crash.net Radio
. “It's a big change from 250cc and I still have a lot to learn, but I really enjoy riding the bike. The biggest difference I think has been the power; when I rode [the Suzuki GSV-R] for the first time in Valencia, I found it difficult to keep the tyre on the ground coming off corners. There are a lot of electronics to work with too, which is very difficult – but step-by-step, everything is getting better.
“It's very important to have a team-mate with so much experience; I get a lot of help from him, and if I have problems I can see the data and compare my laps with his laps. I also peak with him sometimes about the corners, the engine, the brakes and he helps me with everything I need. That's very important for me.
“My first race wasn't how I wanted; I had a problem on the first lap with another rider and we both went off the circuit. That cost me the opportunity to fight. Then [later on in the race], in the last corner I tried to catch two other riders, but I crashed. That wasn't my best experience in MotoGP, but at Jerez we were faster and I could finish the race. It still wasn't my best race because I didn't feel so good with the bike and didn't really enjoy it – I had problems and couldn't go into the corners like I wanted – but top ten was a good result.”
That is an outcome Bautista will be hoping to replicate when the MotoGP circus arrives on French soil for round three at Le Mans next weekend, which although a circuit that on paper might favour the Suzuki, is far from one of his favourites to ride and one of the few at which he has never finished up on the podium at the junior levels.
Beyond that, the 25-year-old gave a big thumbs-up to the new Silverstone 'Arena Grand Prix' layout that will stage the British Grand Prix on 20 June – by which time, he affirms, he hopes to be somewhat more at-one with his bike and into the groove.
“Le Mans is a strange track where the weather conditions are always changing – with rain sometimes and sun at others – which makes it very difficult,” he explained. “It's a short circuit with slow corners, which I don't like too much, but the Suzuki has good brakes, so maybe we can go faster there than some of the other bikes – as a hard-braking circuit, Le Mans could be good for us. We have three practice sessions before the race, and we must work very hard to get a good set-up – and after that, we will fight in the race the maximum possible.
“[The new Silverstone] is a very fast circuit, with some really, really fast corners [taken] in fourth or fifth gear, but also some bumps on the track. We'll have to work very hard with the suspension, because it will be important to have a good set-up for the bumps. I think it's a really good circuit and looks like a lot of fun, with some fast sections, some hard-braking sections for overtaking and some slow corners. It will be interesting to see what happens here in June.
“I'm still not 100 per cent with the bike, but I'm working very hard with it. At the moment it's very difficult because I'm not at the maximum yet, but I think if in the middle of the season I can be at 100 per cent and go as fast as I want, that would be perfect.”TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE