Marco Simoncelli matched his MotoGP best of sixth place in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, while team-mate Marco Melandri had another 'terrible' race.

Rookie Simoncelli, whose San Carlo Honda Gresini team had an extra Honda engineer this weekend, battled Colin Edwards for fifth place for much of the race, only losing ground to the experienced American in the closing stages.

"That was a really nice race for me and to be honest after the warm-up I thought I could have done even better and been a little closer to the front guys. I got a bad start though and couldn't manage it," he said.

"Anyway, I had a positive race, setting a good pace until the end, when I had a few problems with my forearms and had to back off, losing touch with Colin Edwards. I would have liked to attack him again at the end of the race but I am happy and now the objective is to improve again in the next race."

"This is definitely his best race in MotoGP and it was an important day for us and Honda, who have provided us with an extra engineer here, which helped speed the job up," said team manager Fausto Gresini. "Marco has taken another big step forward in his MotoGP education and it should give him a confidence boost. I am happy and confident for him and his future."

But there was more disappointment on the other side of the garage however as Melandri continued to struggle with his RC212V. The former title runner-up, who is switching to WSBK with Yamaha next season, finished eleventh and claimed he has been forgotten by Honda.

"That was terrible - another race just like all the rest," he said. "I got a good start but didn't have any grip. The tyres were cold from the first lap and I had a lot less traction than the guys around me. Even when I thought they were up to temperature there was no change and they felt like they were spent.
"The usual problems with the bike continue and I just can't get it stopped. When Spies passed me I tried to push and stay with him but I just ran wide. It is a depressing situation and we have been completely forgotten about. Honda aren't helping and I can't understand why."

Gresini responded: "[Melandri] is complaining but as far as we are concerned we are doing everything we can with the help of Honda to put him in the best possible conditions but at the moment I think he is lacking the confidence and positivity people need to keep working with determination.

"On behalf of the team and Honda we are all determined to help him so I am disappointed that he sees it differently. We will keep doing our bit to help him get the best possible result until the end of the season."