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Álvaro Bautista has announced that he will continue in the MotoGP™ World Championship next season as a Pull&Bear Aspar rider – making it six seasons across two spells together with the team. The first saw him crowned 125cc World Champion in 2006 and 250cc runner-up in 2008. In MotoGP™ this season he has become a podium challenger, taking fourth place in Argentina and fifth in Italy.
The announcement of your renewal with the Aspar Team has just been released. What made you decide to stay with the team?
I think we have had a strong first half of the season, I feel comfortable with the team and we are working well together. The Aspar Team combine professionalism with a family atmosphere. They are also at a high technical level. I am really enjoying myself on the bike, I feel comfortable and capable of fighting for top results and I think that with this team I have the opportunity to continue competing at a high level.
We are halfway through the 2017 season now. How do you sum up these first nine races together?
I think we could have had some better results during the first half of the season but we have let ourselves down in a few races. Our potential is higher than the current championship standings suggest. Now we need to focus on not making the same mistakes again and improving every time to close the gap on the guys in front. Each of the nine races has had its positives, we have all got to know each other better and we are working with the bike to find a base that I feel comfortable on and that works at every circuit.
What memories would you like to keep from the season so far, and which would you rather forget?
I'd keep them all – the good moments and the bad. From every bad moment you learn something and the good moments are there to enjoy. In order to fully appreciate the good you also have to have the bad. Obviously I'd like to forget the crashes. Luckily, I have not been injured but whenever you crash the risk is there, as well as the impact on the result.
What targets have you set for the second half of the season?
I think our target is the same as before, which is to keep working like we have up to now and give 100 per cent to try and be close to the top five. I have said many times that it is difficult because of the number of factory bikes and the level of this championship, which is incredible, everything is so close, but that is our target and that is what we will be fighting for in each of the remaining nine races.
Now that you know the Ducati better, what would you say are its strengths?
Its main strength is the engine but I also like the chassis. When everything is in place it is a really fun bike to ride: aggressive but smooth, trying not to work the electronics too hard, sliding the bike into the corners... It is the whole package, because when you turn onto the straights and feel that power it's enjoyable. It is quite a complete bike, maybe not as difficult to handle as I expected because of what I'd heard about it from other riders in the past, but if you can find a set-up you can have a lot of fun on it.
Next year you will be riding the GP17. Do you think you will get on just as well?
Well, there is a long way to go before then, a lot of races on my GP16. I need to make the most of them and squeeze everything out of my current bike, and the Ducati GP17 will be next year. Given the results so far this season, with two race wins and the championship leader on a GP17, it is obviously the sister bike to the GP16 but improved in some areas. I don't think my relationship with the GP17 will be too different to the GP16.
There have a few weeks off before Brno. How do you plan to spend them?
It is important to disconnect. June was very intense, with four races very close together. July is time to rest and recharge the batteries. I will try to train hard and make sure I come back at a good physical level because there is not much rest until the end of the season. Also, with me getting married in December, my friends have organised a bachelor party. They haven't told me anything yet but when the day comes we'll enjoy it, although I can't get too carried away because I have to stay in shape!
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