After a torrid pre-season in which he suffered two big accidents and was regularly left at the back of the field, Marco Simoncelli was pleasantly surprised to claim 14th during his first official MotoGP track session.
Changes made to the base setting found in the final test proved positive and more are planned along the same lines tomorrow.
"I have to say that I'm happy because we picked up from where we left off at the last test and the changes we made weren't bad, the bike felt better. I actually feel more concentrated with the pressure of an hour-long session than over eight hours of a test so that's helped too,” he revealed.
“I did my best time on a tyre with 23 laps on it so that is another positive sign. I think that if we can get some laps in behind some other riders and make the changes we have planned to the bike we can make another step forward tomorrow. My objective is to be in the top ten and I think on the basis of today it is within reach."
By contrast, experienced team-mate Marco Melandri felt his one hour session had been completely wasted.
"That was a very negative session for us,” he said. “Unfortunately we should have tried different geometry settings on the two bikes but I decided I wanted the same geometry on both so that I could focus on other areas of the set-up and it just wasn't as good a base as in the winter test. We made a bad start to the session and things only got worse so it was a waste of an hour. Tomorrow we have to try and make up for lost time."
"It definitely wasn't an easy session but with Simoncelli we have made an important step forward considering that his best lap was on a tyre with 23 laps on it,” stated team manager Fausto Gresini.
“We tried a few technical modifications that allowed him to improve and even though we know there is a long way to go it is a small step in the right direction and that gives the whole team a boost. Tomorrow we will try to make another step with Simoncelli but for today at least I am pleased.
“Things went much worse for Melandri, who had problems and we were unable to find a way to resolve them. Naturally we will make some big changes tomorrow and I'm sure that with this bike he can go much faster, as other riders are doing on the same machinery. We have to stay focused and work hard to achieve better results."