Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) secured his equal best result of 2018 at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, crossing the line in P5 to also finish as the top Ducati rider.
“I’m really happy because we worked really well during the whole weekend and the season, but when you get the good result it seems it’s much better,” said the Spaniard, who will be moving onto pastures new at the end of the season as he joins the factory WorldSBK Ducati team for 2019. The 2006 125cc Champion continued:
“I’m so happy and proud of all my team because we are working really hard and get the maximum out of everything we have. I enjoyed the race a lot because I started in the front group. I had some fights in the first few laps with other riders coming from the back, but I could get a good position in the front group.
“When I was behind Dani, I put too much pressure on the front tyre and had some problems to stop the bike entering corners but when I could overtake Dani I was able to ride in my rhythm and at my pace and I felt strong.”
In the end, Bautista was only half a second behind fourth-place Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and managed to finish over a second ahead of P2 qualifier Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3). The Spaniard admits to risking everything to get past the Frenchman, but didn’t quite have enough to reel in ‘The Doctor’:
“I saw my rhythm was a bitter better than Zarco and Valentino’s, so I could catch them,” explained the number 19 rider. “I took some risks at every corner to overtake Zarco but I couldn’t quite arrive to Valentino but fifth place is… not quite the dream, but it’s the maximum we could with what we have. I’m so happy to finish fifth, a great race, I gave the maximum I had.”
And now, with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) recovering from his wrist injury, Bautista has a factory Ducati ride to look forward to at the Australian GP. And it’s an opportunity the 33-year-old can’t wait for:
“It’s like a dream come true to work in the Ducati factory team. First I wanted to say thank you to Jorge Martinez Aspar and the Angel Nieto team because they’ve let me race with the Ducati factory team, and also to Ducati to give me this opportunity to work with them during the Australian GP. I’m so excited to ride with them and the weekend will be to learn and to enjoy, without pressure or a result in my mind – just enjoy the work with the factory.”