Former 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli believes a top five finish will be a 'very good result' during his rookie 2010 MotoGP season.
The Italian has signed to ride for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team in MotoGP this year and is the most successful rider, in terms of 250cc race wins, of the four quarter-litre stars graduating to the premier-class.
Simoncelli won twelve 250cc races, all in the last two years, compared with a total of nine 250cc wins for 2009 champion Hiroshi Aoyama, eight for Alvaro Bautista and four for Hector Barbera.
Nevertheless, the #58 is well aware of the size of the challenge that awaits him in the premier-class - and this is how he predicts his debut season to unfold...
“I know that MotoGP is a very hard category because the strongest riders on the planet are here,” began Simoncelli, speaking exclusively to Crash.net
“It will be a hard battle and for sure at the beginning it will be quite difficult for me because there are less pre-season tests available under the new rules.
“So it will be hard, but I hope to grow step-by-step, race-by-race and get some good results during the second half of the season.”
And what would you consider to be a good result?
“In the top five, for sure, is a very good result,” he replied.
So is that a reasonable target? The following list shows the best rookie-season race results for the eleven experienced members of the 2010 MotoGP grid.
Since no 2010 rookie is allowed to ride for a factory team other than Suzuki, and with 500cc two-strokes now a distant memory, the standard to beat is probably the second place achieved by Casey Stoner in 2006 or third by Andrea Dovizioso in 2008.
Both Stoner and Dovizioso - like Simoncelli and Aoyama in 2010 - spent their first MotoGP season with satellite Honda teams, although Stoner's was during the 990cc era.
Simoncelli will ride alongside former MotoGP World Championship runner-up Marco Melandri in 2010 - and a fifth place would match the best result achieved by Melandri during an injury-interrupted debut MotoGP season with the factory Yamaha team in 2003.
Bautista will ride a factory Suzuki in 2010 while Barbera will campaign a satellite Ducati.
Best rookie season race result - 2010 grid:
=1. Valentino Rossi: 1st - twice (500cc, 2000) Honda
=1. Dani Pedrosa: 1st - twice (990cc, 2006) Honda
3. Jorge Lorenzo: 1st - once (800cc, 2008) Yamaha
4. Casey Stoner: 2nd (990cc, 2006) Honda
=5. Nicky Hayden: 3rd (990cc, 2003) Honda
=5. Andrea Dovizioso: 3rd (800cc, 2008) Honda
=5. Loris Capirossi: 3rd (500cc, 1995) Honda
8. Marco Melandri: 5th (990cc, 2003) Yamaha
9. Colin Edwards: 6th (990cc, 2003) Aprilia
10. Mika Kallio: 7th (800cc, 2009) Ducati
11. Randy de Puniet: 10th (990cc, 2006) Kawasaki