Hiroshi Aoyama has his sights set on beating as many factory MotoGP riders as possible during his second year in the premier-class.
The former 250cc world champion took a best race finish of seventh during an injury-interrupted rookie season for the now defunct Interwetten Honda squad.
A move to Gresini Honda kept Japan's only MotoGP rider on the grid for 2011 and he began the year well by being classified 7th-6th-7th during the first three-day Sepang MotoGP test earlier this month.
Aoyama's team-mate Marco Simoncelli was fastest at that test but, unlike Aoyama, the Italian has the benefit of a factory-spec RC212V.
“My [satellite] bike is based on last year's bike,” Aoyama told Crash.net
. “We received a new engine and I can feel more power and better character.
“I think we will stay with 2010 suspension. I don't hear any news that we will change, but maybe there is a possibility when we receive the new chassis.
“It's going well. Of course I want more, but at this moment I am just adapting to the new team and chief mechanic. So I think where we are is not too bad. I'd be happy to race with this bike.
“Now we want to try to further improve a little bit the braking stability and handling. We tried different rear shocks and this was positive for me. It was very interesting. I never tried something like that and I am very interested to try it again.”
Simoncelli aside, there will officially be eight factory riders in MotoGP 2011 and Aoyama hopes to be regularly beating at least one of them.
“This year we have eight factory riders on the grid so if I can fight with them and beat at least one of them I am happy,” he said. “My target is to be in the top five. I know it's not so easy, but we will see how much we can beat the factory riders.”
Aoyama missed six races last season after fracturing his back at Silverstone.
“This winter I tried to do some exercise that doesn't stress my back too much,” he said. “Swimming, cycling and so on. At the moment I feel physically good. I feel fine.”
The second Sepang MotoGP test starts today (Tuesday).