Alvaro Bautista produced the ideal demonstration behind why Ducati has picked the Spaniard to step in for the injured Jorge Lorenzo for this weekend’s Australian round.

The 33-year-old was confirmed as Lorenzo’s replacement for Phillip Island following his charge to fifth place at the Japanese MotoGP race, his best result at Motegi since reaching the rostrum in third place back in 2012 on the Gresini Honda, to match his result from the Sachsenring round earlier this year.

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Having been in the thick of the midfield fighters, Bautista feels getting past Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was key to his charge which just fell short behind factory Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi.

“I'm happy with this result and it’s been a very good weekend,” Bautista said. “We made a good start, to get into the front group, but when I was behind Pedrosa it was hard for me to stop the bike and enter the corners well because I had overheated the front tyre.

“When I was able to overtake and the tyre was working correctly, I went for Zarco and Rossi. Zarco was faster than me when cornering and it was hard for me to get close, but I took a risk to overtake him and it worked out well, although it was a bit late because Valentino had already escaped. A Top 5 is the highest place we could get.”

Bautista’s Motegi performance gives him timely momentum heading into the Australian round as he prepares to jump on to the factory GP18 Ducati for the first time as Lorenzo’s replacement.

“I want to thank Ángel Nieto Team, Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’, and everyone else for letting me ride for the factory team in Australia,” he said. “It will be a weekend in which I will try to learn as much as possible and work as best I can, with no objective in mind.

“It is exciting to be able to compete with a factory team, and to do it with Ducati is a dream come true.”

The Angel Nieto Team is yet to formally announce who will take Bautista’s spot for the Phillip Island event but home favourite Mike Jones is tipped for the ride having previously acted as stand-in for fellow customer Ducati crew Avintia Racing in 2016.

Jones completed two races for Avintia as replacement for Hector Barbera at Motegi and Phillip Island and scored a world championship point with a 15th place despite being on a two-year-old Ducati in just his second-ever MotoGP race.

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