Portuguese GP: Gresini Racing preview

SIMONCELLI RETURNS TO EUROPE TO SHOW PROGRESS AT ESTORIL AS MELANDRI AIMS TO SIGN OFF ON A HIGH The final race of the flyaway triple in Australia saw Marco Simoncelli confirm his progress over the course of the trip, the Team San Carlo...

SIMONCELLI RETURNS TO EUROPE TO SHOW PROGRESS AT ESTORIL AS MELANDRI AIMS TO SIGN OFF ON A HIGH The final race of the flyaway triple in Australia saw Marco Simoncelli confirm his progress over the course of the trip, the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini battling without fear amongst the best riders in the class. His determination and pace kept him in touch with the frontrunners in the early part of the race although was unable to maintain his performance level on worn tyres in the latter stages - the main area he now needs to work on alongside the team. The Italian knows exactly where he needs to imrpove and he has the support of Honda, who after Phillip Island invited him to Japan for another wind tunnel test aimed at adapting the cowling more to his size. At a circuit where he won in the 250cc class last year and finished second in 2008, "Super Sic" is hoping Estoril can see him continue his recent progress and finally see him secure the top result he deserves. Marco Melandri hopes lie purely in achieving a satisfactory result as he brings a disappointing season to an end. Melandri's problems with the bike continued in the last round at Phillip Island and it seems only a miracle can help him find an optimum feeling with his Honda RC212V over the final two races. Estoril is not one of his more successful tracks but you can never rule anything out with Melandri, who remains one of the most talented riders on the grid. Estoril is a magical circuit for Team Gresini, however, as this was the scene of one of its most famous victories - that of Toni Elias in 2006, when the now Moto2 World Champion beat Valentino Rossi by 0.002 seconds at the end of a heart-stopping race.

Marco Simoncelli "I was really satisfied with the race at Phillip Island but I want to see my performances reflected in numbers. It was a nice race in Australia but it was still a sixth place in the end so I need to work on my consistency. It won't be easy but that is what I will be trying to do alongside the team. After Phillip Island I had a 'bonus trip' to Japan for another visit to the wind tunnel. Honda are looking at using a new cowling so that I can tuck my oversize frame in. As soon as I got home to Italy I started thinking about Estoril, a circuit I like a lot. I won there last year and finished second in 2008 and it seems to be a place that suits my riding style so if we can find a good feeling with the bike I'm sure I can have another good race."

Marco Melandri "At Phillip Island we were dancing to the same old tune. I can't get a feel for the bike so it's hard for me to ride. It is a tough situation but I have not lost hope and at Estoril I will try again although I think we need a miracle. We'll see but I would love to finish the season with a good result."

Fausto Gresini "Simoncelli confirmed his progress over the three flyaway races at Phillip Island. He was focused and consistent for a good part of the race, battling with the front guys. He needs to take another little step to be really competitive and I am sure with the help of the team he can do it. He is brave and hard working and these are the characteristics you need to stand out in such a competitive field as MotoGP. Honda have once again shown their belief in his potential by inviting him back to Japan for another wind tunnel test. There are two races left and at Estoril he has the chance to show another example of his progress and positive approach towards another successful season. I am not happy with the current situation regarding Marco Melandri. Unfortunately over the course of the season he has had a lot of difficulties understanding this bike and adapting it to his riding style. We have done everything possible to help him find a good feeling and we will continue to do so because we have always believed in the ability of Marco Melandri and we still believe in it now. I would be really happy if over these last two races he can pick up a good result and sign off from MotoGP at the top before taking on his next adventure."

-source: gresini racing

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Marco Melandri , Marco Simoncelli , Toni Elias , Phillip Island