Marco Simoncelli proved his surprise first place at the end of the opening Sepang MotoGP test was no fluke by finishing third in this week's return to the Malaysian Grand Prix circuit.

Proving HRC's decision to give him factory status is justified, Gresini rider Simoncelli broke up the three official Repsol Hondas by edging ahead of Andrea Dovizioso after the fast morning laps had been complete.

After putting his name among the leaders, Simoncelli spent most of the afternoon doing a simulated race run of 21 laps. "Super Sic" couldn't match his Wednesday race pace, but put it down to choosing the harder Bridgestone rear tyre.

"I am really happy about the lap-time I managed this morning, although we were a bit confused during the race simulation I did," admitted the Italian, whose best lap was 0.498sec from Casey Stoner.

"Yesterday with the hard tyre I was able to go very fast, but this afternoon from the off I felt worse and couldn't lap at the same pace. Anyway, I'm pretty calm because today's performance was more down to a poor choice of tyre, perhaps I would have been better to go with the softer one and I would have been quick in the race simulation.

"However I repeat, I'm not at all worried and leave Malaysia very content with the work we've done over these three days and also happy that we get to change tracks now because after six days of tests at Sepang I'm slightly "overdone"!

"This second test in Malaysia has made us understand that Simoncelli has grown a lot since last year and is capable of being consistently fast," added team manager Fausto Gresini.

"I'm also happy with the progress the team has made as a whole; with the extra support from HRC and the bike that Honda has made available to us. I'm also impressed with Marco's physical preparation compared to last year."

Simoncelli's new team-mate, and former 250cc rival, Hiroshi Aoyama left the test in ninth place - a solid result considering there are eight factory team riders in MotoGP this year.

"This test finally comes to an end and it's been quite a challenge for me. We have worked so hard, and in some parts I'm satisfied and in others not so," said the Japanese, who fell on day two. "The team has really supported me a lot and together we have been able to understand the path to take in terms of technical settings for the season ahead.

"In the end I'm happy and I can't wait to get to Qatar for the next test so we can build on the great work we have done here. I'm really happy to be working with these guys and I hope to give them something back in return soon."

"It's also been a positive three days for Aoyama who never even went for a fast lap-time and focused on finding the right settings to adopt for the forthcoming season," stated Gresini.

"We have a great squad and I'm sure we'll be very entertaining this year."



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