2008 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli believes he is making consistent progress with his new Honda Gresini MotoGP machinery, although he is yet to push its absolute limits.
The Italian star is presently taking advantage of the extra track time on offer for 2010 rookies with a three-day outing, alongside former 250cc title rival Hiroshi Aoyama, at Sepang in Malaysia.
“Not so bad today,” Simoncelli told Crash.net
from the back of the Gresini garage. “We've improved the set-up once again and for tomorrow we have some more modifications to try which I'm confident will make the bike feel even better.
“It is a very different track to the first test at Valencia and for sure I like Valencia more than this track!” smiled the Italian, whose spirited charge back into contention for the last 250cc world championship effectively ended in October's Malaysian Grand Prix.
“But I'm happy to be here because testing is just what I need to get the right feeling with the bike.”
Simoncelli set a best lap time of 2min 4.48sec on Monday, a fraction behind Aoyama, then clocked a 2min 3.70sec on Tuesday, compared with a 2min 3.25sec for the Japanese. The fastest free practice time during the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix was a 2min 1.427sec (the race was wet).
“At the moment the lap time is not so important. The important thing is to find a set-up for the first race,” said Simoncelli. “That is our target; to do well in the first race in Qatar next year.
“So our most important task for now is to understand exactly what happens when we change the set-up of this bike.”
Simoncelli then gave an indication of how much of the ultimate performance he feels able to extract from the RC212V after less than five days of MotoGP experience.
“Maybe I am missing two seconds per lap, so for me now I am riding at about 80% of the potential of the bike. My target is to ride at 95% of its potential,” he declared.
Testing concludes on Wednesday.
Fellow 250cc graduates Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) and Hector Barbera (Ducati) had their extra rookie test in November, at Estoril and Jerez respectively.