Despite the arrival of Casey Stoner, and an enlarged three-man factory Honda team for MotoGP in 2011, HRC has shown it hasn't forgotten about Marco Simoncelli.

Simoncelli spent his rookie season on a factory bike in the satellite Gresini outfit, a team he will remain with in 2011, but with an upgraded status within Honda.

HRC said that this week's Valencia test marked Simoncelli's debut as 'a full factory supported rider'.

"We have four factory supported riders next year," said HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto, the others being Repsol riders Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso. "We have a plan [for testing] - one rider tests this, another other parts."

As well as development input for the 2011 RC212V, Simoncelli also has more human support.

"Honda have provided us with another telemetry engineer so that Elvio Deganello can concentrate more on the set-up of the electronics," said Simoncelli. "I am really happy with this and I appreciate the support of Honda, which gives me even more motivation for next year."

Simoncelli promptly rewarded Honda for its effort by being fifth and then fourth over the two days at Valencia, finishing the final track action of 2010 just 0.384sec behind fastest rider Stoner.

As part of his new development Simoncelli was given a new chassis and front fork option for day one, then concentrated on a new shock during day two.

"I was pleased with the updates brought to us by Honda and everything worked very well," said Simoncelli. "The new chassis gives us better traction compared to what we have been using this season, which made life difficult for us in a lot of places, and I could feel a good improvement.

"The new forks also worked better and my feeling was immediately as good if not better than the ones we've been using so overall it is good for the future and we can continue improving.

"[Day two] was a great day. We worked a lot on a new shock and choosing the suspension for next year. We also managed to experiment with my position on the bike and did some tyre tests at the end of the day. It has been a very positive test overall, we have been fast and consistent and I am delighted with it."

Simoncelli shrugged off some small falls.

"Unfortunately I have had a couple of little crashes - the first one caused by a bump and the other simply because I was leaned over too far and I crashed at 35km/h," he said. "The first one set us back but it doesn't take anything away from the fact that I am leaving Valencia feeling extremely satisfied."

Simoncelli's new 2011 team-mate Hiro Aoyama moved forwards from twelfth to tenth over the two days. The Japanese lapped almost one-second quicker than he had in last Sunday's race.

"I am really happy to have finished this second day of the test with a good feeling with the bike. I am satisfied with the work we have done, trying out different setting solutions and some different tyres," he said.

"It has been a positive day overall. By the end I got really confident with the bike and I was able to improve my lap time from qualifying at the weekend. I feel good with the team and we are already working well together so I think that when we start working even closer at Sepang we'll take another step forward and soon be ready to race."

During the test, Gresini announced that title sponsor San Carlo will continue for 2011.

"I am proud to announce that San Carlo will be together with us again in 2011 as we continue to chase our shared objectives," commented Fausto Gresini. "Next season we aim to build on the progress shown by Marco Simoncelli throughout the course of 2010 as he has gradually forced his way to the front of the MotoGP pack.

"'Super Sic' is ready to be a consistent contender at the highest possible level of motorcycle road racing and primed to give the team and San Carlo plenty to celebrate.

"In 2011 our other objective is to bring along another 250cc World Champion in the shape of Hiroshi Aoyama. We are determined to show him how to make the same progress as Marco Simoncelli.

"Aoyama has shown in the past that he is a reliable and fast rider and he has all the necessary characteristics to be a serious contender in MotoGP."



Loading Comments...