MotoGP rookie Hiroshi Aoyama concluded the last day of 2009 track action by dropping his best lap time by almost one-second, keeping him on top of the Sepang timesheets.
Riding alongside former 250cc title rival Marco Simoncelli, plus the Honda test team, new Interwetten Honda rider Aoyama was fastest on all three days, culminating in a 2min 2.3sec lap time on Wednesday - a comfortable 0.9sec faster than Simoncelli.
That lap time is just a few tenths from the race lap record of 2min 2.108sec set by Casey Stoner in 2007, although the official best circuit lap is a 2min 0.518sec by Valentino Rossi during qualifying for this October's Malaysian Grand Prix.
For comparison, Gabor Talmacsi, whose bike Aoyama has been using for his first two MotoGP tests, set a best lap of 2min 3.874sec (qualifying) during the 2009 grand prix weekend.
“Hiroshi has gone one second faster every day, so I would have liked to stay here until Christmas!” joked Daniel Epp, as his team prepared to leave Malaysia on Wednesday evening.
Despite the clear progression, Aoyama himself remains firmly focused on 'the next step'.
“My best lap was one second faster than yesterday and I'm pleased, but we still need to keep improving and we cannot be satisfied,” the newly crowned 250cc world champion told Crash.net
“However we have done good work here. It was almost the first time working with the team, so it was important to get a good feeling with the bike and
the team. I think we did well. I learned about what I need from the bike and they learnt also.
“Today we continued to use the electronics and we also changed the balance of the bike a little. We adjusted other normal things but always in a step-by-step way because if we change everything together I will get confused. We also did a longer run, 15 laps.”
How did that feel?
“It's completely different to doing just a few laps and coming in,” Hiro replied. “The machine reacts differently at the beginning to at the end. I have to study how it reacts and also we have some options to change the electronic controls while riding. So I have to chose what I like and what I don't like from the electronics.