Alvaro Bautista is 'convinced' that recent suspension progress will help him battle for a season-best top five finish in this weekend's French MotoGP at Le Mans.
The Go&Fun Gresini Honda competitor is the only manufacturer rider using Showa rather than Ohlins suspension and has taken a best finish of sixth, twice so far this year.
Bautista's recent home Spanish MotoGP was followed by the first day of in-season testing when the 2012 podium finisher was able to work on improving front end feel and reducing rear-wheel slides.
“After the weekend at Jerez and the post-race test I am feeling very motivated,” said Bautista. “We have worked very hard to find more rear grip from the bike after suffering over the course of the weekend and in the test we found some solutions that make me confident that we are on the right path.
“We worked closely with HRC and Showa and we improved our pace from the race so we can go to Le Mans with renewed enthusiasm,” he continued. “With the progress we are making right now I am convinced that we have the potential to be battling in the top five again and this is our objective.”
Team manager Fausto Gresini added: “We are making improvements to the front and the rear of the bike and giving Alvaro more confidence. I feel he is ready to take another step forward in quality and start challenging for some top results.”
Rookie team-mate Bryan Staring, who rides Gresini's CRT machine, will be making his debut at the stop-go Le Mans circuit. The Australian has his sights set on scoring his first grand prix points.
“I can't wait to get out on track at Le Mans, which is a place that fascinates me even though I have never been before,” he said. “In fact out of the next seven tracks I only know one of them. We have been making progress lately so we need to keep going like this and I am sure we will soon achieve our first objective of scoring points. ”
“Bryan Staring is also making solid progress and thanks to his determination he is adapting to the demands of MotoGP,” Gresini added. “Now it feels like the points-scoring positions are a realistic objective and I am sure he will be amongst them soon.”