42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything. And it’s exactly how many days the heroic challenge of Alvaro Bautista lasted to come back in Estoril after breaking his left leg during free practice for the Qatar GP and living a nightmare week in Qatari and Spanish hospitals. During this time he worked incredibly hard to recover, always keeping his fans informed via his Twitter account, sharing his daily routine and giving the world a glimpse into how tough it is for a professional athlete to come back from such an injury. Getting the green light from his physician Dr. Villamor earlier this week, there are now only two more obstacles on his way to race on Sunday: A second check by the circuit doctor and the reality check on Friday, participating in both free practice sessions for the Portuguese Grand Prix. Suzuki test ride Nobu Aoki is on standby in case Alvaro can’t race after all. But so far the odds look good for the Spaniard.
Incredibly Alvaro is already back to such a high level of fitness after this short amount of time that he started to ride Supermoto a few days ago, to get used again to the feeling of riding. Mela Chercoles from Spanish newspaper AS visited him during training and interviewed him ahead of his return to racing.
I’m glad to see you smile…
I’m someone who always smiles, it’s like it is, but for sure just over a month ago I was lying in a bed with a stiff leg and now I’m preparing with Supermoto for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
What has been the hardest in this process?
The days in the hospital in Qatar, because I couldn’t see the moment to start the recovery. There everything was getting worse.
You know already how it is to force a comeback, last year in France with the collarbone, and then not to race.
Yes, but to ride these bikes it’s worse to have broken the collarbone than the femur because they require a lot of upper body strength to get them to change direction or pick them up in the corners. The case of Rossi last year is an example.
How long have you ridden the Supermoto and how was the feeling?
On Monday I did three runs: one for 15 minutes, one for 20 and another for 25 (one hour). And today [yesterday], I did one of 10, two of 20 and one of 25 minutes (1 hour 15 minutes) It was at a kart circuit they’ve built near Talavera de la Reina. It is very twisty, with many changes of direction and without any break because there is almost no straight. You can only go in third gear, so the laps seem longer to you than they’ve really been.
How did the broken left femur hold up?
To be honest it goes well taking a corner and changing direction. The worst thing is changing gears, but for sure at this circuit it takes 30 second to do one lap and you change gears a dozen times, which is a lot. With MotoGP, aside from the gear change being reversed (the first gear is up and the others down), in thirty seconds you change gears five times at most, so I’ll feel less pain because I will change less. On the other hand the MotoGP bike weighs more and is another bike, so we’ll see.
Explain the benefits of the reversed gear change in MotoGP.
To go down gears with the MotoGP bike I have to move the foot upwards, which is what troubles me most, but when you’re going straight out of the curve to put them in I’ll just have to give it a slight touch down, without any strange positions. It will benefit me in case I race, because I still need the doctor’s permission in Estoril.
A process …
Yes, but you have to pass. I’m confident there won’t be a problem. I’ve worked hard to recover and move my leg well, although not as much as the right.
What drives you not to wait a little longer, until France?
I’m very bored at home, without riding my bike. [Laughs]. To me it’s almost worse to miss a race than to lose a foot, because the races are my life. When I injured myself in Qatar it hurt me a lot to miss Jerez and I considered it a personal challenge to return as soon as possible, in Portugal, and if I do it’s because I’m fine. Also, the sooner I get on the bike, the sooner I can catch up on the time lost, because it’s one thing to get on the bike and another to have the race pace, the sense of speed, braking. If I have no trouble, Estoril will be like my preseason.
What goal have you set?
To race and if I can do that to finish as good as possible, developing from the first to the last day.