Alvaro Bautista proved that his optimism following the Catalunya post-race tests hadn't been misplaced by finishing a close third fastest in Friday practice for the British MotoGP at Silverstone.

Even a fall in the wet morning session couldn't dampen the spirits of the satellite San Carlo Honda Gresini rider, who is the only RCV competitor running Showa suspension.

"We have made a good start here despite crashing this morning in very tricky conditions," said Bautista.

"We had the opportunity to try the bike in the wet and that was important for us because at Le Mans in similar conditions we didn't have any confidence with the bike. I felt a lot better with it this morning and I was running third before the crash.

"We'd made some changes to the bike and it felt even better so may the crash was me just pushing a bit too hard."

Bautista went on to lead the dry afternoon session, which he eventually finished just 0.204s from factory Honda star Casey Stoner, with the factory Yamaha of Ben Spies in-between.

"On the dry track in the afternoon we also did a good job even though track conditions weren't perfect and the wind was a real problem," said the Spaniard. "Anyway, we managed to improve my confidence with the bike, especially over the bumps, which was a problem because the bike wasn't absorbing them very well.

"We gathered a lot of data that I'm sure will be useful tomorrow, when hopefully the weather is a little better."

"The tests after the Barcelona race were important and positive and here is the proof," declared team principal Fausto Gresini. "I am happy for Alvaro, who has been able to step up his performance significantly."

Bautista finished fifth in last year's British Grand Prix, as a Suzuki rider.

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