It was another successful Sunday for Angel Nieto Team’s Alvaro Bautista after he secured his twelfth top ten finish of the season after crossing the line in P7 at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.
This came after a phenomenal Phillip Island performance on the factory Ducati saw him take P4, while the first of the flyaway races in Japan was also a great race for the Spaniard – a P5 paving the way for three consecutive top-seven finishes. However, what looked like a strong race for Bautista didn’t come easy in the punishing Malaysia conditions, with all the Ducatis seeming to struggle on Sunday afternoon:
“I saw that the Factory bikes struggled during the race, but we also struggled, especially with rear grip,” said the number 19 rider, who eventually crossed the line as the second-placed Ducati rider, one place behind his Australian GP teammate Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). “Entering the corners wasn’t so bad, but on the gas I suffered a lot; I couldn’t open the gas because the bike started to slide from side to side, so I was struggling,” continued the 2006 125cc World Champion.
“I did my maximum and the bike gave me the limits. I think we did a good race because we were consistent. I felt this problem from the start, so I couldn’t push more and just had to keep the rhythm and be as consistent as possible.”
The aforementioned second placed Ducati accolade was something positive to take away from a race that Bautista didn’t enjoy: “In the end, we were second Ducati behind Dovi’s factory bike, and in front of the other Ducatis. So, I think it has been positive, even though I didn’t enjoy the race like I expected,” explained the 33-year-old, who also took the positives from another top ten result – something he has achieved 11 times in the last 12 races: “It has been a tough weekend but seventh position, again top 10, is a good result. Now we have to finish the season in Valencia, enjoy with the fans there and I hope for a good result.”
A home round in Valencia signals Bautista’s final Grand Prix racing appearance for the foreseeable future as he moves onto pastures new with Aruba.it Ducati in the WorldSBK paddock in 2019. An emotional weekend awaits, and it’s one the Spaniard is looking forward to:
“I’m not thinking a lot about the future, but it will be special,” explains Bautista. “Firstly, because we’re racing in Valencia, in Spain, which is always special. Then, because it’s the last race of the season. Then because it’s my last race in MotoGP™, for the moment. I just want to enjoy the race with the fans, with my family, with my friends, with the team, with the bike. So, I just want to end my MotoGP™ career with good memories. No pressure for a result; just to enjoy the weekend.”
Bautista sits one point behind fellow Spaniard and another rider who is saying goodbye to the Grand Prix paddock in Valencia: Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team). Who will finish ahead of who between the pair as they bow out of successful GP careers together?