The first day at Aragon for Alvaro Bautista ended with the 4th fastest time on the combined timesheets after being stationary in the garage for practically the entire second free practice session. On the Spanish circuit the new CBR proved to be fast, but it also suffered some teething problems and the smoke at the end of FP1 did not leave many doubts as to what the cause was.
“They just told me they would change the engine, that's all I know. My crew chief was more worried than me" , Alvaro smiled, answering questions about his technical issues.
In truth, Bautista did a couple of laps in FP2, but then he preferred to stop as he had noticed an oil leak.
"We decided not to run in the afternoon for safety reasons, because we didn't know if that leak was caused by the engine or if there was some oil left," he revealed.
So just as well you did the tests at MotorLand…
“I think we were lucky to have this problem here, because we have a lot of data - confirmed Alvaro - The bike set-up is basically decided, so I'm not worried about what happened, we have clear ideas. We just wanted to try some different tyres to see which one was the best for performance but also for durability, which is very important on this track, I remember that last year I felt a lot of tyre drop. However, I will have time tomorrow in FP3 and then I'll have to try to make the most of the tyres in qualifying, because I haven't done it in the last few races. "
Honda and Bautista also got off to a good start on Friday at Jerez, only to not keep up with the opposition on Saturday and Sunday. Is there a risk that the same will happen?
"I really hope not - he said with a laugh - Fortunately we made some changes in the set-up of the bike and already in Portimao we had made some steps forward over Jerez, so I hope that here the situation is more similar to that of Portugal. I feel strong and we will see how it goes, I expect everything and nothing ”.
Aragon seems like a good chance for the Spaniard…
“Our strength is the straights, because we have a very powerful engine. It's not a simple track because you can't have a perfect set-up for both slow and fast corners, you have to find the right compromise. For this reason, I think the Honda is not bad here and I have been competitive in the past too," he explained.
All that remains is to wait for the outcome on the stopwatch, but the morale is high…
“I'm improving my confidence on the bike; I've made a lot of very small steps forward but all together they make the difference. Before, we weren't okay in any area, while now we are sorting things out” he concluded.
Audio by Andrea Rossi