His best weekend came in Australia, where he qualified third and finished second. But the joy wouldn't be lasting. The following weekend Simoncelli lost his life in a racing accident on the second lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
The days, weeks, and months that followed have not been easy for anyone on the team, nor was the task of replacing the charismatic and talented Italian. But rather than shy away from the challenge, Gresini is now embarking on one of the most ambitious racing programs in grand prix history.
In 2012, Gresini Racing will contest the Moto3 World Championship, with Niccolo Antonelli; Moto2, with Gino Rea; and MotoGP, with Alvaro Bautista. Then there's the added twist of entering a CRT machine - a CBR1000RR engine built by Ten Kate Racing housed in a bespoke British-made FTR chassis-in the MotoGP class, with Michele Pirro.
Gresini spoke about the past and future during an interview in the team's offices in an industrial park in Faenza, Italy, about 50Km southeast of Bologna and roughly an hour from the team's shop in San Clemente.
Gresini, smartly dressed in dark blue Stone Island sweater over a crisp blue and white striped oxford cloth shirt, and distressed jeans, began by apologizing for his passable English. When he occasionally spoke in Italian, it was translated by a Gresini Racing employee who spoke fluent English.
Why did you become a team owner in 1997?
My career as a rider was finished and I decided I still had more love for the bike and decided to start a new process. It's better to be a young team owner instead of an old rider. This is my style. For me it's important to continue with motorcycles. Me, I love too much the bike to not continue in this way.
How difficult was it to adjust to being a team owner, rather than a rider?
I started my new career as a team owner working with Honda Brazil. I started with Alex Barros. I started with the top class. It's very difficult.
And to have a good rider like Alex and to have my history in Italy and to have a sponsor with my new history, this makes it possible to start. But it's clear for me everything is new. It's completely different compared to riding. And it's a new way to work.
There are many people working with me. It was like I was building a company. It wa completely different. It was difficult. It's necessary to take time to understand this new system of working; this is important to consider as a whole. As a rider, it's important tohave physical preparation and a good mental approach.
As a team owner, it's a completely different approach. It's all day working with mechanics' problems, bike problems; many, many parts.
This year Gresini Racing is in all three classes and CRT.