Álvaro Bautista has admitted that he is happy to be Rizla Suzuki's lone rider in the 2011 MotoGP World Championship – arguing that the fact that the team 'is working only for me and making the bike to my requests' can only be a 'positive'.
Bautista made his premier class bow last year alongside veteran Loris Capirossi
– the most experienced competitor in MotoGP history – but this year he is going it alone with nobody to learn from, following the Italian's defection to Pramac Ducati and the team electing to slim down to just a single bike-effort for 2011.
As the effective team leader – even if British Superbike Championship convert John Hopkins
has been recruited as a back-up rider [see separate story – click here
] – Bautista is confident that Suzuki has made solid progress during pre-season testing to-date, and whilst the Spaniard found himself unexpectedly struck down by illness on the final day of the first Sepang group test earlier this month, still he points to encouraging progress in terms of assessing different frames, electronics and other modifications for the GSV-R that he hopes will pay off in Qatar.
“I'm very happy, because I improved my best lap time from last year, so it's a good sign for us,” the 26-year-old is quoted as having said by the official MotoGP website, after placing sixth on day one in Malaysia, eighth on day two and tenth overall.
“In Valencia (in November) I tested many things and here I re-tested the same parts, but Suzuki is always a very fast bike here. Here I cannot feel the big difference like I felt in Valencia, so this means that in hot conditions our bike is competitive, as always. In cold conditions, I think we are improving. It's very important to have a competitive bike not only at hot tracks, but we need it to be competitive at cold tracks too, so the work Suzuki are doing is of great importance.
“I think being the only rider is positive on the whole, because Suzuki is working only for me and making the bike to my requests. Now it's very hard for me, but I think that when the races start it will be easier and I think I'll have more support.”