As predicted over the past few days, Alvaro Bautista has finally signed with the San Carlo Gresini Honda team for the 2012 season. The Spaniard had been holding on for news from Suzuki, but with no confirmation of the factory's involvement for 2012, Bautista's patience was tested to its limits and he had to make a decision.
Bautista will now ride a Honda RC213V for the Gresini team in 2012. Though HRC's Shuhei Nakamoto is said to regard Bautista very highly, it is unlikely that Bautista will receive the same support that Marco Simoncelli was destined to in 2012. The satellite teams will start the year very close to the factory spec bikes, but will not receive the updates as fast as the factory bikes.
With Bautista signed, that leaves just two gaps still to be filled on the factory prototype bikes for 2012. Suzuki's participation in MotoGP is still uncertain - though a decision should be taken by the end of this week - and the LCR Honda is yet to be officially filled. Given the outstanding showing that Stefan Bradl has put on in his two days on the 2011 800cc bike at the Valencia test, there is every reason to believe that Bradl will be racing for LCR Honda in 2012.
Below are the official press releases, first from Suzuki announcing Bautista's departure, and then from Gresini announcing his signing:
Rizla Suzuki and Bautista part for 2012
Publish Date: Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Rizla Suzuki regretfully announces the departure from the team of current rider Álvaro Bautista
Bautista joined Suzuki for the start of the 2010 season, making his racing debut at Qatar. He has been a popular rider with the team as well as establishing himself as a firm favourite with the fans due to his racing spirit and infectious smile. During his two seasons with Suzuki he has recorded top five finishes and put his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on the front row of the grid. Bautista has been the solo rider in the team in 2011 and has been an asset in the improvements to the bike and the huge potential it is now showing.
Suzuki Motor Corporation, all members of the MotoGP team, title sponsor Rizla and the team's other sponsors and partners would like to wish Bautista well in his future career and every success and happiness in his personal life, and everyone in the Rizla Suzuki squad would like to thank him for the two years of hard work, loyalty and commitment that he has given the team.
"I am very sad to be leaving Suzuki after the two great years that I have had here. It has been a great team to work in and I have learnt a lot of things from everyone in the team. It was a fantastic experience working with an English/Japanese team and we have become like a big family, except we have never had any arguments and no-one falls out with each other! I want to thank everybody personally for the last two years, sometimes it has been difficult, but nobody ever gave up and I felt like I always had their full support and commitment. I don't feel like I am leaving a team, but a group of friends that I hope I will know for a long time. I want to say a special thank-you to Tom, Paul, Ken san and Sahara san, and wish them and the rest of the team all the best for the future."
ALVARO BAUTISTA AND SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI TOGETHER IN 2012
An agreement has been reached between Alvaro Bautista and Fausto Gresini for the Spaniard to ride a Honda RC213V with Team San Carlo Honda Gresini in 2012. Thanks to the co-operation of Suzuki, Bautista gets his first chance to ride the bike ridden this year by Hiroshi Aoyama at Valencia today.
Fausto Gresini "I am particularly satisfied that Alvaro Bautista will ride a Honda RC213V in the colours of Team San Carlo Honda Gresini next year. He is a very fast rider and I also hold him in high regard for his personality and pleasant nature. I am sure that he will integrate swiftly into our group and that we will enjoy some pleasant experiences together in the future."