After qualifying on the fourth row in Qatar and the third row in Spain last weekend, Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista took another step forward to place himself on the second row for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Portugal at Estoril. The Spaniard qualified sixth fastest despite being held up by a number of slower riders on the racing line over the closing laps. There was disappointment on the other side of the garage, meanwhile, with Michele Pirro unable to keep his promise of a specific lap time to the team as he tries desperately to repay their tireless hard work in moving the CRT project forward.
Alvaro Bautista (6th 1’ 37.917)
“We did a good job today. This morning we completed race distance on the hard tyre and it was a positive session. Everything went according to plan in the afternoon too but on the last soft tyre we ran into a lot of traffic on track and when I tried to push on the very last lap I came up behind Spies in the first turn. It is a dangerous thing to do and I think it is up to all us riders to make sure that when we slow down we move aside and make way for the guys coming behind us. Anyway, a second row start is good for us having qualified on the fourth row in Qatar and the third row at Jerez. Tomorrow we need to make a good start and if we can stay with the guys at the front over the opening laps we can look forward to a good race.”
Michele Pirro (16th 1’ 40.225)
“Unfortunately I made a mistake on my good lap which prevented me from keeping my promise to the guys, which was a 1’39. They deserve at least that because they are working so hard to help me improve. We know we are behind with development but as I have said before nobody is losing faith. Hopefully we can get a good start tomorrow and then complete our principal objective right now which is to make it to the end of the race.”
“That was a good effort from Alvaro despite the traffic on track. It’s his best grid position of the year so far at a circuit he doesn’t particularly like, even though he always seems to do well here. A second row position is a good sign because he is a better racer than qualifier and if he gets a good start and reproduces the pace he showed today he can have a good race. We are struggling more with the CRT bike because there are a lot of hard acceleration points here and that is our weak spot, but we’re working hard to give Michele a more competitive machine.”