This weekend's Malaysian MotoGP will be the second held since the tragic death of rising star Marco Simoncelli, in the 2011 Sepang race.
“Going back to Sepang is heart-wrenching for myself and the members of the team who were infected by Marco's contagious good humour,” said Simoncelli's team principal Fausto Gresini.
“It will be emotional but that is another reason why we need to stay focused and concentrate on getting a result.”
Aiming to provide a fitting tribute to Simoncelli this weekend will be Alvaro Bautista, who now rides the Gresini team's lone Honda RC213V prototype.
“Alongside the technicians from Showa and Nissin, Alvaro has been able to move things in the right direction and our performances are improving from race to race,” said Gresini.
“We go to Sepang feeling sure that we can continue in this way and improve again, which will mean we are fighting for the podium and reducing the gap to the front. Sepang is a good track for Alvaro and he is capable of a top result there.”
Bautista arrives in Malaysia still seeking a first podium of the season, but having finished less than a second from Valentino Rossi
and a rostrum place last time at Aragon.
“We fought all race for a spot on the podium and it was a real shame to lose touch with Valentino on the last lap because of the battle with Bradl,” said Bautista. “Anyway, we achieved our goal of being the first non-factory bike across the line and that is a source of great satisfaction to us. We are really improving and we want to confirm our progress again at Sepang by reducing the gap to the winner.
“It won't be easy because everybody is starting out with the data from pre-season testing but I think we are at a relative advantage because our bike has improved a lot since then. I want to enjoy myself again like I have in the last few races. I have been working hard on my physical condition in readiness for the heat and humidity of this race and it is important to know when to use your energy and when to save it.
“The track is always fantastic and definitely amongst my favourites, with lots of different kinds of corners, hard braking zones, fast direction changes and some spectacular sliding. It is a wide track with some different lines and lots of opportunities to pass on the brakes. The weather tends to be changeable from the morning to the afternoon and the pace tends to drop as the day progresses because of the intense heat.”