When the first official test of the 2011 MotoGP Championship finished at Sepang on Feb. 4, San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama managed a seventh overall.
The test results gave the Japanese MotoGP rider much confidence, and Aoyama thinks him, his team and the RC212V are capable of top-five finishes in 2011.
Aoyama had to work hard to achieve successful results at the test, considering he spent much time getting in shape for 2011 MotoGP. While riding in his rookie year with Interwetten Honda last year, the 29-year old missed six races after fracturing a vertebra at Silverstone.
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: "During the winter I was in Japan spending time with family and friends, then in December I came back to Europe and started to do some training which specifically takes into account the back injury I had last year. I started carefully and slowly, and I think my condition now is quite good.
"At the first MotoGp Test in Sepang it was physically okay, across all three days, and we did almost 190 laps which is a lot. Every day I completed the highest number of laps, and that was great as it was my first time on the bike after two and a half months.
"The team is working very well together and I was not expecting so much from the first Test because it’s not so easy to change teams, but it went better than I expected and I was happy with the result. The team has a lot of experience and they can help me a lot.
"This is my second year in MotoGP, and after I missed so many races last year this season is still a learning process for me. They can teach me a lot and I have a lot of respect for them. The feeling with the team is very good and everybody is professional and working hard."
Aoyama will be at Sepang next week for the second of three pre-season MotoGP tests with his teammate Marco Simoncelli, who was fastest at the first Sepang test session.
Hiroshi Aoyama says: "We want to analyze what we found in Sepang last time out and also try some things with suspension set-up, find better handling, grip, things like that.
"When we tested in Malaysia a couple of weeks ago the chassis was the 2010 version and the engine 2011, and I hope I will receive the new bike as soon as possible. Until I get that material I will just be trying to get back my feeling on the bike, and also continue establishing a good communication with the team. This is my goal.
"I always want to win the race, but we all know that’s not so easy in MotoGP! I believe we have the potential to be in the top five, and I want to be there regularly. I want to fight for the top five at every race, and if I can be there it will be very good for us with what we have. I will try to do my best as always, and we have two Tests to prepare for the first race in Qatar."
Aoyama was crowned the 250cc World Champion in 2009 thanks to four victories, seven podiums and two pole positions. He made his MotoGP debut last year with the Interwetten Honda team, scoring a best result of seventh place in the Malaysian Grand Prix.