Alvaro Bautista, seventh on his San Carlo Honda Gresini debut at Qatar, has his sights set much higher for this weekend's home Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

The former Suzuki rider missed last year's event due to injury, but rode his new RC213V at the circuit during March's final pre-season test, when he was ninth quickest in terms of single lap times.

"It was a tough weekend for us in Qatar because I struggled to find the confidence with the bike that I had enjoyed during pre-season testing," confessed Bautista. "We tried a lot of things without ever establishing a good feeling and I had to work very hard in the race to get 100% out of what we had. It was important for us to finish the race and to finish it in seventh was a positive way to finish a difficult weekend.

"During this short break I have been training hard every day and enjoying some time relaxing with my family, without ever taking my mind off the job. We have some extra PR work to do this weekend but I always look forward to Jerez because it is a very special race to me.

"I missed out last year through injury but we gathered some good data during pre-season that should help us have a good race on Sunday. Our objective is to run with the guys at the front, which would be great because it is always such a pleasure to race at Jerez in front of the fans.

"Jerez always feels like the true start to the season because it is the first European round and everything runs according to the normal daytime schedule. It is a real festival of motorcycles and it's exciting for the fans and riders.

"I have some unforgettable memories of Jerez because it was here that I took my first ever grand prix win and it would be nice if I could get my first MotoGP podium here too."

Former 125cc world champion Bautista's best MotoGP finish to date is fifth place.


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