Gresini Racing press release
Simoncelli Takes Top Form To Japan As Aoyama Hopes For Successful Home Race
This Sunday the Motegi circuit will play host to a Grand Prix of Japan that was initially postponed back on the 11th March 2011 due to the catastrophic effects of an earthquake and tsunami. Thanks to their incredible levels of dignity and pride just six months later the Japanese people have their heads held high and their country prepared to host a World Championship event. It wasn't an easy decision for the MotoGP paddock to make to go to Japan but this week they will arrive en masse at Motegi. For Marco Simoncelli the race is an opportunity to build on his fourth place at Aragon and continue a magical run of recent form whilst for Hiroshi Aoyama this is a chance to show his true potential at his home Grand Pix. If it wasn't for some premature front tyre wear 'Super Sic' could have been fighting for the podium at Aragon and even though he didn't quite manage it he once again showed that he has the pace and the talent to be fighting at the front. Following a recent excursion in a Ford Fiesta WRC alongside Mikko Hirvonen, winner of the recent Rally of Australia, Marco has the need for speed and is determined to score the podium he was so close to at both Misano and Aragon. Hiroshi Aoyama continued to recover confidence with his bike at Aragon, bringing it home to a solid points finish with a consistent ride, raising hopes for his home Grand Prix. The Japanese rider is determined not to let the chance of showing his fans just what he is capable of in MotoGP pass him by.
Marco Simoncelli “There is no bitterness over finishing fourth at Aragon even though looking back I know I could have been fighting for the podium. Unfortunately the front tyre wear let me down and even if I hadn't run wide I couldn't have passed Lorenzo because he was so much more consistent throughout the race. It is a shame but I have a chance to make up for it now at Motegi. I am happy with the set-up changes we made to the front end of the bike at Aragon in the warm-up and that gives me optimism for the future. Motegi is not one of my favourite circuits, it has some very hard braking and acceleration zones which is not really a good thing for me but I will try and adapt as best I can. The race didn't go too bad last year and I was able to fight with Colin Edwards for fifth place and in the 250 class I took the win in 2008 and pole position in both 2008 and 2009, so those things are in our favour. I took a little time out after Aragon to go to England and drive a Ford Fiesta WRC for two intense days alongside Mikko Hirvonen, who is a true legend on four wheels, and it was a great experience. He told me I did well and that I could have a future as a rally driver. We'll see!”
Hiroshi Aoyama “I was half happy with the race at Aragon – satisfied that I was consistent to the end and able to fight with Rossi and Crutchlow but disappointed with the final result, which could have been much better. Anyway, at least I was able to get a good feeling back with the bike and that gives me motivation for my home race. I will have a lot of my fans there at Motegi and I want to give them a good result. For me it is important to be racing in Japan following the sad events of March and my people have handled this tragedy with great strength and courage. MotoGP has close ties with the Japanese people and for the Grand Prix to go ahead will strengthen this rapport. It hasn't been easy and I understand why but to have everybody coming to Motegi to race is a dream come true.”
Fausto Gresini “Simoncelli showed once again at Aragon that he can now be considered as a frontrunner in MotoGP – it is just a shame because a podium was within his potential but the front tyre wear meant he could not give his maximum. Consistency in his form is the most important thing though and I am sure that over the last four races of the season he will provide us with lots more enjoyment. His relationship with the team has helped him to grow and now Marco is in a position to aim for the very top. Motegi is not one of his favourite circuits but he can be up there fighting again. It is an important weekend for all of us and with it also being Honda's home race it is down to us to do a good job. Motegi will also be important for Aoyama, who raced with great determination at Aragon and wa sunluckynot to come away with a better result. He has his confidence back in himself and in front of his fans in Japan he will have the chance to be a MotoGP frontrunner. It has not been easy for anybody in MotoGP to taker the decision to go and race at Motegi but the Japanese people deserve that we all make maximum effort to make the Grand Prix go ahead following the tragedy of the 11th March.”