This Sunday the Motegi circuit plays host to the first of three races in as many weekends as the MotoGP World Championship prepares for quickfire visits to Japan, Malaysia and Australia. Alvaro Bautista and his team will begin work in earnest this Friday as they look to improve his front-end setting and confidence for the season’s final sprint. The Spaniard is determined to get the maximum out of his Honda RC213V and repeat his podium from Misano before the current campaign is out.
The Grand Prix of Japan is always a very special event for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini and it is a great source of pride to be able to represent Honda at their home circuit, thanks to a very special relationship between Team Gresini and the Japanese factory.
Alvaro Bautista is currently tied for sixth in the MotoGP World Championship with the possibility of finishing fifth. The Spaniard has been getting stronger as the season has progressed, with his first podium coming two races ago in Misano, a race which was preceded and followed by sixth place finishes. Already he has scored nearly double the points he did last year and should double his previous best from 2010 if he maintains his consistency.
That battle starts at Motegi, where before last year’s non-finish he was seventh in his rookie MotoGP season of 2010. Bautista took a win at Motegi in 2009 during his final season in 250cc, one year after finishing second. He was also second in his final 125cc season in Japan.
Bautista is the only rider in MotoGP using Showa suspension, which adds pressure to his task of finding the proper set-up on a circuit that taxes the forks and shocks with hard braking and equally hard acceleration.
Alvaro Bautista “Aragon was something of a difficult weekend thanks largely to the mixed weather. We were never able to work as we wanted to during practice with the new material that Showa brought for us. In qualifying I struggled for feeling on the front, the bike was moving around a lot on the rear and we were unable to solve our problems in time for the race. I would have liked to have been fighting for a similar result to Misano, but the bike wasn’t in the right shape. I managed to make up positions in the race and improve my pace from practice, but no more than that, so we have to focus on the positives, which were championship points and important data for Motegi where we will again work hard to fix our set-up problems with the bike. If everything works as we hope then we should be competitive. We have to work a lot on the bike under braking, because this is the most important factor at this circuit.
Starting off the flyaway triple-header on the right foot will be fundamental, plus we are racing at Honda’s home circuit and I would like to offer them a good result as a way of thanking them for all their support throughout the season. I have been competitive at Motegi in the past, so I hope to repeat that this weekend. Motegi is a circuit where you need a bike that is stable on the brakes and has good traction in corner exit. It should be well suited to our bike which has great acceleration.”
Fausto Gresini “Japan is like a second home for us, because we have always had such a great relationship with Honda, so as always we are happy and proud to go back there to race. We will try to do our best and figure at the front, because we will be closely watched. We also have a close bond with the people of Japan, because over the years we have had several Japanese riders race for us and that is another reason I am always happy to go back there. The championship is proving to be a difficult one this year, but we are trying to keep our concentration high and take that step in quality that we saw in Misano and to a lesser extent at Aragon. The team is determined to find the right setting at a difficult and technical circuit.”
Source: Gresini Racing / Honda Pro Racing