Gresini Racing believes it made a breakthrough in its so far disappointing 2012 MotoGP campaign in practice for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans on Friday.
Although the team's new rider Alvaro Bautista sits sixth in the MotoGP standings and took top-six finishes in Spain and Portugal, he has yet to emulate the front-running form of his predecessor on the factory-spec Gresini Honda, the late Marco Simoncelli. But after setup changes helped him to fourth in the second Le Mans practice session, ex-Suzuki rider Bautista said he felt things were starting to come together.
"We tried some things with the setting to improve the bike from Estoril and initially they didn't work that well but with a few tweaks to the suspension we found some interesting solutions," he said. "We continued to work in the same direction in the afternoon and I felt a lot better on the bike than I did at Estoril and Jerez. Obviously, there are still some little details to work on but for now I am happy because we have taken a step forward."
Team boss Fausto Gresini believes Bautista's progress could allow him to challenge the Tech 3 Yamahas of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso - who have been 'best of the rest' behind the works Hondas and Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo so far in 2012.
"I'd say we have started out on the right foot even though Alvaro is not a big fan of this track," Gresini said. "The team have worked hard along with the Honda engineers to improve under braking and corner entry. Alvaro liked the new solutions and we have taken an important step forward. Our main objective is to fight with Dovizioso and Crutchlow and I think we are on the right path."