When Alvaro Bautista competes in the Qatar Grand Prix he will become the only rider on the grid to have raced four different 'factory' MotoGP machines.

Aleix Espargaro, who has replaced Bautista at Aprilia, may have already raced with four different brands of premier-class bike - but two of those were in the former CRT/Open class.

Bautista has spent his entire career on official 'factory class' machines, first with Suzuki, then Honda (satellite) and Aprilia. The Spaniard has now switched to the Aspar Ducati team, where he will ride a GP16, a bike that claimed two victories last season.

"The first time I rode the Ducati GP16 it felt 'easy' to handle, compared to other MotoGP bikes I have ridden," Bautista said. "I really like the character of the engine, it is very smooth. I also really like the electronics. I think it is a bike with a lot of potential.

"It is hard to compare with other bikes because my references have changed over the years as I have gathered experience.

"On the Suzuki I learnt a lot about MotoGP but it had a different character. I think the Honda is the most similar, but the Ducati chassis handles better and it is lighter, I like it more.

"For me, of all of the bikes I have ridden, I think the Ducati is well balanced."

Bautista took part in two tests for Aspar last November, an official outing at Valencia followed by a private test at Jerez, where he was fastest of the MotoGP riders present.

"In the tests we have done so far we have learnt something new each time, improved, and raised the bar. I still don't know where I need to improve or where I am at the limit already," he admitted.

As far as predictions, the former 125cc world champion, 250cc race winner and triple MotoGP podium finisher stated:

"I think it will be a fun season, with so many rider changes; especially at the start as riders get used to their bikes, encounter problems, get over them... then there are the tyres, which were decisive last year.

"If we can get the most out of what we have there is no reason why we won't be up there fighting. To be fighting in the top five would be a good result. It will be difficult but I think it can be a realistic objective."


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