Alvaro Bautista says his pass on Valentino Rossi at the iconic point where the Italian overtook Jorge Lorenzo to win the 2009 Catalunya Grand Prix was the most pleasing moment of his ride up to sixth in the 2012 edition of the race.
The Spaniard had been tipped as a dark horse aboard his satellite Gresini Honda around his home circuit after showing well in practice, but a disappointing tenth and a slow start would ultimately scupper his hopes of getting on terms with the front runners.
Despite this, Bautista made decent progress in the race, overcoming a slow start to haul his way up to sixth position, planting a move on Ducati's Rossi around the final corner on the way, and almost catching the fight for third in the closing laps.
Declaring himself pleased with the result, which matches those achieved at Jerez and Estoril, Bautista nonetheless admits he needs to qualify better if he is to make the most of his race pace.
“It is a shame that I didn't get a perfect start,” he said. “It's bad enough being on the third row but I managed to lose positions from there and had a tough battle to recover, especially with Valentino. The most pleasing thing about the fight with Rossi was that I passed him in the same place he passed Lorenzo for the win in 2009.
“Unfortunately the guys at the front had got too far ahead and by the time I was lapping at the same pace as them the tyres were dropping off and I couldn't catch them. Next time we have to try hard to get a better position on the grid and make a better start but for now I am satisfied. It's the same result as Jerez and Estoril but with a much smaller gap to the podium and now we have the opportunity to build on it in the test tomorrow.”
Team-mate Michele Pirro, meanwhile, crossed the line 14th as the second-best placed CRT in a race that otherwise saw no notable retirements.
“We always get a good start but unlike the others I don't seem to be able to push hard on fresh tyres. Over the rest of the race my pace is consistent so we need to work on not losing so much ground at the start of the race.
“I am sure we could have finished as the top CRT here today but anyway this is still a good result and I had a lot of fun overtaking. I have to say a special thanks to the team, who are working round the clock to give me the means to do well. I do what I can and I am sure that if we continue to believe we will get our rewards.”