The Forgotten Man

Alvaro Bautista celebrates his podium in Motegi

Well, what a weekend that was, Moto3 has been a revelation, and with last laps like that it wouldn’t surprise anybody that the grid is over subscribed. But I don’t want to look at the Moto3 race, or even the Moto2 race, because there isn’t anything that I can say that will make you think WOW even more.

Instead I am going to talk about a Spaniard. But not one you would think of. Not red hot title challenger Dani Pedrosa, nor the man he is chasing Jorge Lorenzo. If I wanted to talk about Marquez and his breathtaking ability I could’ve copied and pasted what I wrote in my previous post, it would all still be applicable. Nor will I be talking about either of the runners up to Marquez in the Moto2 race. I could even be excused for talking about a mad Spaniard in the shape of Luis Salom, but no. The man I am going to write about is Alvaro Bautista, the forgotten man.

I don’t want to dwell on the past too much, but here is a 125cc world champion, and constant 250cc title challenger and a man now in his third season in MotoGP, so why is it that we never seem to mention him?

Last season there was signs that Alvaro could finally be finding his feet with the big boys in motorcycle racing, but he was having trouble getting to the end of races. He was having to push his Suzuki far too hard, and whilst he could get towards the front of a field he would struggle to last the distance having to ride beyond the bikes limits for so long. That in turn would create its own problems, injuries. In his first two seasons in the premier class he missed 4 races through injury, not fantastic when your trying to build something.

This season was always going to be a real test as to Alvaro’s ability when he was handed a ride in the Gresini Honda team after the tragic events with Marco Simoncelli. Whilst heart crushingly sad, and Marco will always be in all of our hearts this was Alvaro’s chance. Only for his semi factory Honda opportunity to get suddenly harder.

With the current economy the way it is, and Gresini struggling to get sponsors he took the decision to swap his bikes from Ohlins suspension to Showa suspension. Now while that may sound insignificant it is hard to stress how big a change this was. There was 12 prototype machines in MotoGP, 11 of them are on the “superior” Ohlins shocks, with just Alvaro and Gresini (and his CRT team mate Michele Pirro aboard his FTR Fireblade) with the Showa shocks. This means that coming into Qatar teams will have had 11 days of winter testing, as well as past seasons information to use, modify and help them set bikes up for the new season. Alvaro, on a new bike anyway had nothing.

With the season progressing Alvaro managed to get more confident on the bike, topped by a pole and fourth position at Silverstone, showing his and the teams progression, before Assen. Now as you will know if you read this blog I am a big fan Jorge Lorenzo, so the actions of Bautista at Assen infuriated me. But they also hit Alvaro hard. He was massively embarrassed and started to get down and I’m sure he would admit that he felt a little sorry for himself. He went to Germany and Laguna Seca in a dark place by his own admission.

Once the summer break was over a rejuvenated Alvaro Bautista was here. He had a confidence back in the paddock. He was smiling, he was happy, he needed the time away to get his thoughts right, and get back for the second half of the season, and what a half he is having.

A fifth in Indy and a sixth in Brno helped Alvaro get confident on the bike. He now had more info on his new suspension and was really starting to understand the bike he was now riding. With silly season getting towards an end his bike was the last prototype available. Then at the Misano world circuit Marco Simoncelli, he showed Honda what he was made of, with a stunning ride to claim his first ever rostrum in the premier class, at the home of the man who he was following on from. It was emotional for everybody in the team, but it was fitting, almost destiny.

He then backed this up with a solid race in Aragon after a poor qualifying, but bettered this once again with another podium in Motegi in Japan. After a fierce battle, he worked his way past Bradl, Dovi and then Crutchlow to get another heroic podium, and this time he had more than just a trophy, cap and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate with, a brand new contract was waiting for him. The first signs that maybe somebody does appreciate him.

He now finds himself 5th in the world championship ahead of Crutchlow, Rossi and Spies, and continues to impress, with three circuits he has always been strong at left this season expect Alvaro to push Doviozo for fourth place in the world championship. And hopefully people then might just sit up and take notice of the smiling assassin with the number 19 on his bike.

Thanks for reading, and why do you think that Alvaro is constantly over-looked as a rider? Let me know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *