The San Carlo Honda Gresini team left the final MotoGP pre-season test at Qatar 'worried' after riders Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli were unable to get higher than twelfth and 15th respectively.
Melandri, returning to the team with which he finished second in the 2005 world championship, has had a tough time adapting to the new Ohlins-mounted 2010 satellite RCV and has not been ranked higher than tenth on any of the six days.
To make matters worse, Melandri also destroyed his bike during a final night fall at Losail and couldn't hide his frustration.
"I'm a bit bitter and disappointed because we've tried practically everything but nothing has helped us get on the right track,” he said. “None of the changes gave encouraging results and our work was just being wasted. A crash further complicated things with the bike being completely wrecked.”
Bravely, given the sometimes sensitive nature of HRC to public criticism, Melandri went on to state that his problems are not unique to the Gresini team.
“I don't think that it's just our problem though because I can see that virtually all the Honda riders have similar problems to us,” he declared. “The first race will soon be upon us and the current situation is quite worrying. We need total commitment all round to find the answers and overcome this tough moment."
But if Melandri starts the new season on the back foot, rookie team-mate Simoncelli is in an even more precarious situation, having suffered both a lack of pace and numerous falls.
The former 250cc world champion agrees with Melandri that the problems, which are believed to centre around front-end feel, are hurting all the Honda riders - although Repsol's Andrea Dovizioso looks to have found a strong set-up, having managed the third fastest lap time at Qatar.
"It's been really hard work, we've tried all sorts of things but we haven't found one which helps us move forwards,” said Simoncelli. “At this clearly difficult moment in time I don't believe that my lack of experience in MotoGP is relevant. I can see that other Honda riders are also having more or less the same problems so I believe that together we must all roll up our sleeves to get out of this low point."
Gresini also called on Honda to act swiftly
“There's a lot of work still to do, it's not going to be easy but I am convinced that with the determination which sets us apart and the commitment from Honda we will find the right way,” he said. ”I´m obviously worried today and to see that despite all the work and the commitment from the technicians we have made no progress, I am quite disappointed. As always I still believe in Honda´s prowess and its ability to react and I hope that it is decisive at this difficult moment."
Melandri and Simoncelli were just ranked 14th and 17th, out of 17 riders, on overall lap times at the end of the Qatar test.
The other Honda riders were classified third (Dovizioso), joint seventh (de Puniet), 13th (Pedrosa) and 16th (Aoyama).