Alvaro Bautista completed a scintillating week in Sepang by posting the seventh fastest lap time at the MotoGP test, a feat he feels is down to the excellent base set-up of Ducati's GP16.
The former 125cc world champion described the year-old machine, now resplendent in Aspar Ducati colours, as “very complete” and the best MotoGP machine he has ridden after seven years in the premier class.
Having produced strong showings during the two previous days at Sepang, Bautista set 28 laps in the 2m 00s / 1m 59s range. Only Maverick Viñales and Marc Marquez did more.
Adding to the fastest MotoGP time set in a private test in Jerez in November, Bautista is quickly building up a head of steam. The reason? Ducati's GP16 suiting his style, along with a complete base set-up, something that contrasts his experiences developing RS-GP in the past two years.
“This bike suits my riding style very good so I feel comfortable,” said Bautista. “Already in the first day on the fourth lap I rode in the 2m 00s. It was as if the winter didn't exist for me. I felt quickly very comfortable.
“It's a very complete bike. The engine is very strong, it's very smooth and also the handling for me is very nice. Just we have to improve the exit from the corner because still the bike – not only me – but all Ducati bikes, we are struggling to make it turn on the exit from the corner. But for me it's a very complete bike, the best [I have ridden in MotoGP].
“Today in the morning with the fresh track I tried to push a bit harder and I felt really good pushing and making good lap times. I can say that I'm happy after that.
“We start to work especially with the electronics to see the management of the power, to see if the shift can help me more or less. We were testing but I can say that they have been three days very positive.
“Now I'm enjoying the present. I look forward to seeing how much I can stay in front. The real moment will be the race. At the moment we're only testing but I can say that I'm quite happy with my feeling right now.
“OK, in the past I did different work developing a bike. Now I have the bike base already done so I don't need to test a new frame, a new swingarm, a new engine, new electronics, new software. I can just concentrate on myself and try and get the maximum performance of the bike.”
With the three days at Sepang completed, Bautista is now looking ahead to the next test in Phillip Island to see if the base setting that has served him so well thus far can work at a completely different circuit.
“Well, we'll see because from last year's test in Jerez to here we practically didn't change the bike setting a lot. That means that the base was good. I want to see what it's like in Australia which is for sure a very different track.
“It demands many different things. I want to see there if we can start with the same base or if we need to change a lot the bike. The test there is important because I need to know if our days in Sepang and Jerez are also acceptable there.
“It's not the same to test at a track for eight hours a day to arriving at a weekend GP with 45 minutes. For me the most important thing is to have a good base that doesn't change from one track to the other.”