The MotoGP World Championship reaches the penultimate round of the season this weekend as the series lands at one of its most interesting stopping points: Australia. The scene of Marco Simoncelli’s last ever MotoGP podium is the ideal place for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini to hit form with both Alavaro Bautista and Michele Pirro.
The Spaniard, who picked up an important sixth place finish in difficult conditions at Sepang on Sunday, is hoping to improve his form in the dry this weekend and above all resolve the front-end problems that have dogged him in recent weeks. The team’s goal is to find a set-up that helps Alvaro in corner entry and gives him the opportunity to be competitive at a circuit where he celebrated the 125cc World Championship back in 2006.
Even if he never turned another wheel on the racetrack, he would stilll end the season with his best championship placing. Already this year the Talaverano scored more points than his first two seasons in MotoGP combined. And he is in a strong position to finish fifth overall.
The reason is his second half resurgence. The 27-year-old Spaniard earned his first MotoGP podium in the team’s home race in Misano and followed it up with a third in the Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi. To continue at that level in Bautista can call on his memories from 2006, when he won the Australian 125cc GP to secure the 125cc World Championship, or the following two years when he was runner-up in the 250cc class.
Phillip Island is located around 160km south of Melbourne in the state of Victoria. It was purpose built for motorcycle racing in 1956, meaning that unlike many other circuits built primarily for four-wheeled machines it is ideally suited to MotoGP. With a series of fast and flowing corners and a main straight that looks like it disappears into the ocean, Phillip Island is like no other circuit in the world. Seagulls and stray wallabies are one of the main dangers here, as well as strong winds blowing in off the ocean.
Alvaro Bautista “The result in Malaysia was positive and it gives us confidence for the future, even though we know that we need to keep working with the same level of enthusiasm so that we can improve further. Phillip Island is a circuit I love, because I have great memories of winning the 125cc world title there. Of course we have to work hard to find a good setting, because it is a high speed track and you need a stable bike. We will keep working along the same lines as recently and hopefully we can be as competitive as we were at Motegi. ”
Fausto Gresini “It would be nice this weekend if we can honour the last ever podium of Marco Simoncelli with a great result this weekend. That energy would give us all a lift. The hard work being done by Alvaro is bearing fruit and his confidence in the bike is steadily building. Alvaro likes this track and he has good memories of it, because it was here that he won the 125cc title.”
Source: Gresini Racing, Honda Pro Racing