Marca has published an new interview with Alvaro today, talking about the current development of the Suzuki, Alvaro’s improvement this season and his options for next year.
They have also chosen a very misleading headline for their interview (“Rossi should envy me”) which, when you read the whole interview and the statement in question, is not remotely as polemic as they’d deliberately made it sound to (successfully) unsettle many Rossi fans who didn’t bother reading past the headline. So we hope our readers do read the interview in full.
Alvaro Bautista (Talavera de la Reina, 1984) grows as a rider on a factory Suzuki where he does not know whether they continue in 2012. Not even the factory knows their intentions for the future. The 125cc World Champion from 2006 has other offers, such as Tech3 Yamaha, but for now he focuses on achieving a podium in 2011 to top off his remarkable improvement this season.
Since you came to Suzuki the tyres always influenced the performance. How?
If you look at the past, you see that since the start of the single tyre supplier era Suzuki has not been competitive. Previously, Bridgestone did a [special] tyre for Suzuki, a tyre for Ducati, a tyre for Yamaha, … Now you have to adapt to one. Bridgestone followed a line of work and for Suzuki it didn’t work. It was the biggest problem we had last year. When there was little grip or it was cold, forget it. It was impossible to ride the bike.
This year, with my work and the factory bringing me what I ask for, we’ve solved this problem. The proof is that last year after the start I was just trying not to crash. Now I can pass in the first few laps and push. It is a big step forward. Still, we lack a lot of grip compared to other bikes. I can only ride with the softer rear tyre.
Is that the main problem this year?
My main problem is that I got injured in the first race. We lost a lot of time. Before the injury I was at the level I am now. In preseason I was always among the top eight. Physically I’ve had to recover and mentally it is not the same get on the bike after breaking the most important bone in your body. And the time was lost to develop the bike.
The bike is slowly but surely getting better, right?
Yes, very little by little. I have also improved. There is more change in me than there is on the bike. I have more confidence. Before, in the cold, I couldn’t get the knee on the ground. I felt helpless. Now we have a more balanced bike, allowing to improve easier.
Now that the second part of the season started, what grade would you give yourself?
It is still difficult because of the injury I had, but we recovered. We managed to get back up. In the championship I do not care if I end up 14th or 10th, I want to go race by race. For the work I would give myself almost a B [good]. A 6,5. I am also very demanding.
Seeing that you’re developing a factory bike all by yourself…
[Interrupts] Then I get a 7, that’s a plus.
… Seeing, for example, Ducati gives Rossi everything; he’s got other riders to compare with and an unlimited budget. And you are behind. Does that make you a little envious, to say “If I had those means…”?
On the contrary, it motivates me. Valentino, nine times world champion and for me the best ever, changes bikes and it costs him to be competitive. And I am with a factory that has less data than Ducati who were winning races last year. Suzuki did not win one race… For me it’s more motivation. It means I’m doing a good job and I am able to make it competitive. Who would have to be envious is him.
As for 2012: You are oblivious to the negotiations and said that your manager did not say anything. However, you do know more or less what you would like and what not. For example, you wouldn’t like riding a CRT or a 800cc.
Of course, that I have very clear.
What would you rather have, a factory or a satellite bike?
Factory bike, clearly.
Even if the factory is Suzuki and the satellite bike is a Yamaha?
You’d then have to see about the sports project each of them has. Currently there are no projects. When the time comes that you know “this is this and that’s that”, then you decide.
Does it give you hope that Suzuki is testing a 1000cc bike in Japan?
Yes, the story has changed dramatically. At Montmelo Paul Denning, the boss, told me that probably Suzuki would start the year with the 800cc and then, at halfway or so, move to 1000cc. Because they were making a completely new bike. Different concept.
Now they have changed. I think they’ve seen the results, seen that we’re on a good way and with the right person can achieve the objectives. Then they focused on what Honda or Yamaha have done: an 800cc bike with a 1000cc engine. I think the factory has been motivated. They said “Why can’t we make a competitive bike?” It’s good that they are working and, above all, trust me. I didn’t even know they were testing the 1000cc. I was told in Brno.
Before we get to that, who do you think has more chance to be champion this year? Stoner or Lorenzo?
On paper I see Stoner as a rider who goes fast in all conditions. Lorenzo is also very fast. He has the mentality of being champion, but Stoner has an incredible hunger for victory. Since 2007 he had bad luck. Now that he’s picked a bike that’s easier to ride than the Ducati I think he’s going to get it.
And you, how far can you go? To a top five?
Last year I got two. This year the level is higher in the category. There are four factory Hondas, the two Yamahas and it is difficult, but we can fight for it. Earlier this year I said that my goal was a podium. I still have the same goal.