The Gresini Honda team returns to Sepang with heavy hearts for this weekend's Malaysian MotoGP, an event that claimed the life of Marco Simoncelli in a racing accident one year ago.
“Sepang won't be easy for us after the events of last year, which left a void that can never be filled,” said team principal Fausto Gresini.
“Marco was a special person to all of us and we miss him a lot, but I am sure that is the case for everybody connected to the world championship.
“We see that with the affection that continues to be shown for him wherever we go. With heavy hearts we will give our best this weekend to honour his memory and we are in good shape to do just that.”
Alvaro Bautista, subsequently drafted into the Gresini team for 2012, will be aiming to salute Simoncelli from the rostrum on Sunday - having scored his second podium of the season last weekend at Motegi.
“We go to Sepang in good form but with a heavy heart because of the events of last year,” said the Spaniard, who recently re-signed with Gresini for 2013.
“The track itself suits our bike and my riding style so we will work hard from the first lap to find the best possible setting for the race and then give our best to hang on to the guys at the front and maybe even repeat the result from Japan.”
Italian team-mate Michele Pirro, who works with many of Simoncelli's former mechanics, hopes he can also provide a fitting tribute to the former 250cc world champion.
“Now we go to Malaysia, where the memories of Marco will come flooding back,” he said. “It won't be easy but the thought of him helped me win the Moto2 race at Valencia last year so this Sunday I will be giving my best again to pay him tribute, which I owe to the guys on my side of the garage who worked with Marco last year.”
At 16:00 on Thursday afternoon the entire paddock will assemble at the scene of the tragic accident that took Simoncelli's life, to honour the much missed Italian
The Gresini team raced in a black livery for the first half of this season, as a mark of respect for Simoncelli.