Riding just six weeks after breaking his femur, Bautista qualified two-seconds from pole in his first MotoGP qualifying session of the year, at Estoril on Saturday.

That was enough for the Rizla Suzuki rider, who sat-out Saturday morning practice due to the damp conditions, to outpace Pramac's Randy de Puniet and Honda LCR's Toni Elias - but Bautista knows Sunday's 28 lap race will be a severe test of endurance.

"We decided not to go out in the third practice because it was too risky and we don't need to risk anything here this weekend," Bautista explained. "This afternoon was really my third practice and I was able to start with the same lap-time as yesterday, but my rhythm was a lot more consistent.

"The track was still a bit damp in parts this afternoon, especially the first and last corners and the track grip was not as good as yesterday, so even though the lap-time was the same it meant that I had improved because the conditions were worse.

"At the end of the session my feeling had improved so I was able to push a bit more and I was able to go a second quicker than yesterday, so I am very happy about that.

"I feel a lot more tired today than I did yesterday, I really noticed the extra 15 minutes in the session. I need to recover for the race so I will go to the Clinica Mobile for some treatment and then get some rest.

"For tomorrow I hope for good weather and my target is to finish the race, I do not care about the position I just want to finish. I know I will suffer because 28-laps is a long way, but it is my target and I want to do it!"

Team manager Paul Denning hailed Bautista's qualifying performance as an 'amazing result'.

"As we said yesterday the effort to be ready to even ride this weekend was brave, but to qualify within two seconds of pole and in front of a couple of other guys is an amazing result," he said.

"Apart from his injury, ?lvaro has also had a lack of time on the bike compared to the guys that have competed in Qatar and Spain, and missing this morning's session because of the impossible conditions didn't really help him either.

"The target for tomorrow is to complete the race, move his fitness on to a higher level and get properly ready for the busy races in June. If we can achieve in the race what we did in qualifying today it was be as good - if not better - than we could possibly have expected."



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