Alvaro Bautista's season has gotten off to the worst possible start at Qatar, when the Rizla Suzuki rider crashed heavily in Turn 15, the final left-hander of the circuit, breaking his femur in the process. Bautista was slightly fortunate, in that it appears to have been a clean break, but the bone will require an operation to insert a pin. The recovery period for such an injury is typically around 10 to 12 weeks, which would leave Bautista out until Le Mans at the earliest.
Bautista has been taken to the Hamad Medical Center on the edges of Doha, where he and the team are evaluating the best course of action. Bautista wants to return to Spain first and then have the pin fitted there, but the medical staff in Doha say that it would be much better for the break to be pinned here before flying home to Spain.
Bautista's crash is doubly unfortunate for the Rizla Suzuki team. Last weekend, former Rizla Suzuki rider John Hopkins had joined the team, to help shoot some promotional videos on the GSV-R. Hopkins had stayed on to attend the tests as a spectator, but had flown home to California afterwards. Given that it is 20-hour flight from California to Doha, Hopkins could just about make it out to Qatar, but would literally have to roll out of the plane and on to the track without any preparation. No decision has yet been taken on who would replace Bautista at other rounds.
Bautista's absence from the grid will not endear Suzuki any more to Dorna. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta is already discomfited by the fact that Suzuki have only agreed to field a single bike for the 2011 season, leaving the grid at a paltry 17. With Bautista out, that cuts the grid down to just 16, not the start that Dorna wants to 2011. Rizla Suzuki will undoubtedly come under pressure to find a replace for the Spaniard as soon as possible. They may be given a free pass at Qatar, but after that, Dorna will want to see a Suzuki on the grid.
The official Rizla press release is show below:
Bautista out of Qatar Grand Prix
Publish Date: Friday, March 18, 2011
Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista suffered a broken left femur from a fast crash in the closing stages of today's third practice session in Qatar, which immediately ended his participation in this weekend's first race.
Bautista landed heavily after high-siding at turn 15 and immediately looked in some serious discomfort. He was instantly taken to the circuit's superb medical facilities and examined by members of the Clinica Mobile. After a thorough examination, and some x-rays, he was diagnosed with a break to his left femur which will need to be pinned.
Bautista was immediately taken to the Hamad Medical Corporation in Doha for further tests, before a decision will be taken whether to operate in Qatar or for him to return to Spain.
Further information on Bautista's condition will be updated as soon as more information is available.