The opening round of motorcycle testing for the 2011 MotoGP championship season has ended all the arm-chair racer’s arguments about who would be the world’s fastest man on two-wheels in the opening salvo.
Anticipation was high for one Italian, Valentino Rossi, as he joined the Factory Ducati MotoGP squad aboard the GP11 at the first three-day test at Sepang located in the southern part of the state of Selangor in Malaysia.
To the surprise of many, it was another Italian who took the honors of fastest lap on the last day of the test, Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli.
Those who have followed Rossi know that he often starts slow as he builds his speed leading to the opening race, so this surprise comes more so as the satellite-supported Simoncelli surpassed the blazing-fast Factory Honda trio of newly-arrived Casey Stone, Spaniard Dani Pedrosa and fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso.
Marco Simoncelli unequivocally confirmed his outstanding recent form with this stunning performance on the third and final day of MotoGP testing in Malaysia.
To many this result had been building, with the Italian making a strong start on the opening day and improving throughout day two. Simoncelli was also consistent throughout a race simulation on the 2011 Honda GP bike, which also proved positive.
Marco Simoncelli (Honda RC212V in 1st position after 42 laps) "I am really happy today. In the test at Valencia we realized that the new bike had potential and I already had a good feeling with it. Taking into account that this is not one of my favorite circuits we have still managed to build on our consistency from yesterday and this morning I was able to set an awesome lap.
"For the rest of the day we focused on a race simulation, setting a consistent pace and by the end of it I wasn’t on the limit like I was in the race here. Overall I am 100% happy. The team has worked brilliantly, the changes have integrated well and everything has gone perfectly.
"We have all improved, starting with myself, the guys and the bike, and I’m sure this year I’ll ‘be there’ too. Obviously this is only the first test so we have to keep our feet on the ground and just continue like this."
Fausto Gresini (MotoGP San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: "This is a real pleasure and a big boost for us. Simoncelli has been fantastic these last three days and I am delighted with him. We know we can be compettiive but this level of performance was above our expectations. It shows that we are contenders and I have to say I am feeling euphoric right now!
"Simoncelli deserves it because he has worked hard over the winter and I have been impressed by his determination. Naturally my thanks also go to Honda, who have provided us with an outstanding bike. All the guys are working well, San Carlo have once again showed their belief in us and together we are feeling very excited."