At the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, Alvaro Bautista matched Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s best ever race finish when he completed the wet, penultimate round of the season, in seventh.
During Free practice 3 on day two of the meeting, Bautista completed the list of top 10 riders who progress through automatically to Qualifying 2 to compete for a starting position on the front four rows of the grid. The Spaniard went on to improve by one more position, qualifying ninth on the grid, and during the dry warm-up session prior to the race he was the 11th quickest rider on track.
Race delayed by 20 minutes because of the rain
It rained heavily before the race though causing it to be delayed by 20 minutes. When the riders took to the track for the wet race, there was a lot of surface water which prohibited a lot of riders meaning they struggled with grip and/or visibility.
Bautista matches his second best result of the season
Bautista originally dropped to 14th in the pack by the end of lap one but then when he was able to find his rhythm in the wet, he was able to manoeuvre his way past several riders. He then benefited from three riders crashing out ahead of him; all of this led to Bautista collecting one of his best results as he matched his seventh place finish that he achieved in Motegi, Japan for the 15th round of the season.
Whereas the like of the Team Suzuki Ecstar riders Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro have admitted they are struggling with the wet setup and configuration of the GSX-RR, Bautista seems to be doing well aboard the RS-GP in the tricky conditions. Does it come down to the rider or the bike? His teammate Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crashed out of the race, however he was able to recover his bike and re-join the race finishing in 17th ahead of rookie Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat.
Positive weekend for Bautista finishing with a good result
Bautista felt that “seventh place is a good result” and that it “came at the end of a weekend that was definitely positive”. He felt they “demonstrated good performance throughout practice” and was delighted with the fact they achieved “the best starting position yet with Aprilia”.
Discussing the race he found “conditions were very different from the rest of the sessions”, as after the rain storm that delayed the race “there was much more water”, and as a result he found the “feeling with the bike was not the same”. So, in an attempt to overcome this he “controlled the situation in the first laps” and made sure he took care “not to make any mistakes” and instead was “trying to achieve as much as possible”.
He said that he “saw a lot of crashes” ahead of him and that the “track was anything but easy” and so taking this into consideration, and including the fact the “sensations in the saddle were not the best” he and his team have left Sepang “satisfied with the result”; they now head to Valencia to “finish this season well”.