Simoncelli 15th & Melandri 12th

Qatar Test Day 1

In the surreal surroundings of the Losail motorcycle racing circuit in Qatar the first night of the final MotoGP test session before the 2010 season took place. The riders took to the track at dusk and rode until midnight local time, with temperatures of around 24ºC following a scorching afternoon in the desert sun.

For San Carlo Honda Gresini Team riders Marco Melandri and Marco Simomcelli it was another demanding session, with both riders clocking up 63 laps. Both riders still have plenty of work to do and along with their engineers and Honda they are determined to close the gap to the lead riders before the first race.

They only have one more day of testing remaining and it will be crucial that they gather usable information before lining up for that opening battle on 11th April.

Melandri started out tonight´s session on the right foot but was unable to take major strides as it progressed, testing a variety of solutions without ever striking lucky. His rookie teammate Simoncelli´s goal is to regain confidence following his heavy crash last time out at Sepang and the youngster worked hard to find a good base set-up and consistent pace.

Marco Melandri Speaks… ( 63 laps 1´57.605 )

"We have completed 63 laps and tried a lot of things in a variety of directions but we kept running into problems. We are still struggling to find the right way forward but we still haven´t lost faith and tomorrow we will try and find something working from the base we established today."

"Sometimes when you find yourself in this situation it can be discouraging but given the fact that other riders are going better on the same bike we know we are not far from putting the pieces of the puzzle together and making up positions. "

Marco Simoncelli Speaks… (63 laps 1´ 57" 891 )

"This first day was important for me after the Sepang crash. I want to and have to rediscover my confidence in myself and in the bike and I did that, which was the main thing. We continued to work on the set-up, trying to find a solution that improves my feeling with the bike and we have taken another step forward."

"Obviously we still have a lot of work to and on one hand I am worried because we only have one more day but on the other hand this is the situation we are in and there´s no point despairing. The important thing is that we maintain the faith that we will eventually find out way and leave these difficult times behind us."

Fausto Gresini Speaks…

"If I am being honest with myself I must admit that I am a little concerned with the amount of work we still have to do but at the same time I am optimistic that we will find the right way forward sooner rather than later. With a lot of effort from everybody – riders, technicians and Honda – we will get through what is clearly a difficult time."

"We still have a lot of work to do and with just one day of testing left we know we can´t solve all of our problems but I am extremely confident that we will eventually do so and that we will be satisfied at reaching our objectives. The first race is coming up and if tomorrow we can gather some important data then that can form the base of a good start to the season at this circuit. "

MotoGP Qatar Unofficial lap times – Thursday 18th March

1. V. Rossi (Yamaha) 1’55.402
2. C. Stoner (Ducati) 1’55.717
3. B. Spies (Yamaha) 1’55.954
4. C. Edwards (Yamaha) 1’56.540
5. R. De Puniet (Honda) 1,56.588
6. Dovizioso (Honda) 1’56.811
7. J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’56.838
8. N. Hayden (Honda) 1’56.855
9. M. Kallio (Ducati) 1’56.923
10. D. Pedrosa (Honda) 1’57.047
11. L. Capirossi (Suzuki) 1’57.099
12. M. Melandri (Honda) 1’57.605
13. H. Barbera (Ducati) 1’57.822
14. Y.Aoyama (Honda) 1’57.888
15. M. Simoncelli (Honda) 1’57.891
16. A. Espargaro (Ducati) 1’57898
17. A. Bautista (Suzuki) 1’57.960

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).