After two promising test sessions in the heat of Sepang, this weekend's final 2011 MotoGP pre-season test at Qatar will be especially important for Alvaro Bautista and Rizla Suzuki.
Bautista finished the last Sepang test eighth out of the 17 full-time MotoGP riders, but the Malaysian Grand Prix circuit has traditionally been one of the team's strongest venues and the big question is if the latest developments will work as well in cooler temperatures.
Because the Qatar test is held at night, track temperatures will be significantly lower than Sepang. Generating grip in cooler temperatures has been the GSV-R's main weakness.
“After the two good tests at Sepang we have a better idea about the bike and a good setting to start with at Qatar,” said Bautista.
“This final test will be very important for us, as it will be the last time we can make some more improvements to the GSV-R before the first race.
“I am really looking forward to racing again and that can't come soon enough for me. The team has worked very well in the pre-season and we need to carry this on and into the rest of the year.”
Bautista will be joined at the test by former Rizla Suzuki star John Hopkins, who finished fourth in the 2007 MotoGP World Championship with Suzuki.
Hopkins, who has recently joined the Samsung Crescent Suzuki team in British Superbikes, will be present to assist with some PR filming planned for the test weekend - but his lap times are sure to be watched with interest.
The Qatar test will take place between 18.00hrs and 23.00hrs local time on March 13-14. The first race of the new season is the following Sunday.