Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
“To be fighting in the top five would be a good result”
Four days of tests in November were the perfect prologue to a new story; Álvaro Bautista’s return ‘home’. The Spaniard resumes his relationship with the Aspar Team for a season that will see him compete on board the Ducati GP16, a bike that has already impressed him
Now that the new year is underway and with a full season ahead of us, what are you asking for from 2017?
I am hoping that in 2017, from the sporting side, I can enjoy riding the bike and racing. I hope to be able to give everything as a rider and get the most out of every circumstance. I am not asking for results because I know that if I can squeeze 100% out of the bike and enjoy myself, the results will come.
The Ducati will be your fourth different MotoGP bike. After your four-day test in November how would you describe it?
The first time I rode the Ducati GP16 it felt easy to handle, in inverted commas, compared to other MotoGP bikes I have ridden. I really like the character of the engine, it is very smooth. I also really like the electronics. I think it is a bike with a lot of potential. It is hard to compare with other bikes because my references have changed over the years as I have gathered experience. On the Suzuki I learnt a lot about MotoGP but it had a different character. I think the Honda is the most similar but the Ducati chassis handles better and it is lighter, I like it more. For me, of all of the bikes I have ridden, I think the Ducati is well balanced.
After your first laps on the bike you will ride in 2017 do you think you will have to change your riding style?
It is hard to answer that right now, I need more laps on the bike. In the tests we have done so far we have learnt something new each time, improved, and raised the bar. I still don’t know where I need to improve or where I am at the limit already.
You finished 2016 with a string of top ten finishes; do you think you can keep the run going at the first race of 2017 in Qatar?
I think 2016 was a season of steady growth. The bike arrived in time for the first race and the more we worked on it the more it improved, which allowed me to get results. The base we start from in 2017 is ready to race, we don’t need to develop it so it will be easier when we go to each Grand Prix. We can focus on the set-up or tyre performance. I think the objective is to be more prepared and I am confident we can score better results than the ones we finished last season with.
Do you dare to make a prediction for 2017?
I think it will be a fun season, with so many rider changes; especially at the start as riders get used to their bikes, encounter problems, get over them… then there are the tyres, which were decisive last year. If we can get the most out of what we have there is no reason why we won’t be up there fighting. To be fighting in the top five would be a good result. It will be difficult but I think it can be a realistic objective.