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Published on November 1st, 2016 | by Boris

TEN MINUTES WITH ÁLVARO BAUTISTA

While squelching through the mud at the Australian MotoGP this year, I sought shelter from the storm among the gorgeous crop of new Aprilia models in a pavilion on Gardner Straight.

“Be welcome here,” said Nigel, who was the Man Running The Pavilion.

“You’re only saying that because you know I won’t leave until the polar bears outside piss off,” I replied.

“How’d you like to talk to Álvaro Bautista?” he asked.

I looked around the relatively small pavilion.

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They sure are purdy. The bikes, I mean.

“He’s not here, Nigel. That’s a picture of him and Bradl. Years ago, when I wandered around here fried off my face, I would have interviewed the picture and no-one would have known the difference. Now I reckon you’re screwing with me.”

“No,’ Nigel smiled, because he indulges my madness. “But he’ll be here shortly. You can have a chat to him if you like.”

I thought that would be pretty cool. The last MotoGP racer I spoke to was Yak. And he went on to win a race. I figured Álvaro had nothing to lose.

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Rachel, the promo girl, always attracted a big crowd.

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People line up politely for MotoGP stars.

In due course he turned up. His race face was on (it was Saturday), but he managed to smile at the line of people waiting for his autograph outside the pavilion. He didn’t smile at me, but then not many Spanish people do.

Nigel introduced me, we shook hands, I stuck my phone in his face and I made the best use of the very short time I had to ask the Team Gresini rider a few questions…

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I’m trying to see his neck tattoo without being too obvious.

Álvaro, can you sum up your season for me thus far?

“Well, I think we worked a lot. We started with a completely new bike. In the last few races we saw an improvement. I’m happy with how it’s working and how the last tests went. We were able to always stay in the top ten fighting with more experienced manufacturers.”

So where do you think the Aprilia is the strongest? And don’t say where it hits the air-fence.

“It is difficult to say, no? I think the bike is still not at the maximum level, so for me the strongest point of this bike is its consistency in the race.  In the first part of the race we cannot be very fast but we are very constant during the race, especially in the second half when we are faster. I think the positive part of this bike is that.”

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“Hang on a sec. I gotta take this call.”

What does the Aprilia need to be more competitive? Rossi? Marquez?

(Laughs) “We need more time first of all to work on it. We need to make the bike more easy to turn, and we need a bit more grip exiting from the corners. And for sure more power because in the straight, especially in the high gears where we are missing out on power.”

Next year different team. Looking forward to that?

For sure. I am very motivated for next year. Because I come back to a team I won the championship with in 125s, so I have a good memory. It is big disappointment to leave the Aprilia bike because last year we work with the laboratory bike; and this year we had a real MotoGP bike. I think we did a really good job and now just to leave the project is not good. But I will try to leave Aprilia at the best place in development that I can.”

Tell me about this Spanish-Italian rivalry. Is it real? Is it a beat-up off the back of the Ross/Marquez/Lorenzo thing?

“I think everybody want to beat the other rider. It doesn’t matter if he is Spanish, Italian or Australian. But for sure if you have a lot of Italian or Spanish riders it’s easier for that aggression to exist.”

And that was pretty much all the time I had with him. Autographs needed to be signed, and Nigel felt it would be best if I accompanied him into the Aprilia pit garage. But first he made me promise not to take off my pants and make genital contact with any of the bikes. He said it would make him “look bad”.

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He was much happier after I’d left.

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He will probably need one of those.

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“Goodbye to you.”

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About the Author

is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.



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