HARD DAY'S NIGHT FOR TEAM SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI IN QATAR
A long weekend under the lights of Losail in Qatar came to a disappointing end tonight for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri. Simoncelli arrived at the first race on the back of a tough
preseason with the challenge of making up for lost time, which to an extent he achieved. The other positive for 'Super Sic' was his race performance, having battled his way into the mid-pack in the opening half of his MotoGP debut tonight before taking eleventh place. The flip side of the coin for the team was a disastrous weekend for the other Marco -- Melandri - who struggled to thirteenth.
Marco Simoncelli (11th): "I'm pretty happy with what you could call a decent debut. After having struggled in the winter tests we've seen tonight that I am in shape to fight with the mid-pack, if not the front guys just yet. I'm happy with the first half of my race but when the tyres went off I couldn't stick the pace with Capirossi and Edwards and had to 'pull the oars into the boat'! It was tough for me to keep a fast pace when I was riding on my own so I slowed down. There were definitely positive aspects to take from this and now we move on."
Marco Melandri (13th): "That was a very disappointing race, one of the worst of my career. It was impossible for me to ride -- I was struggling from the start and after a few laps it got worse, with the engine braking system cutting out which meant I couldn't even brake properly. There was something wrong with the throttle connection and I couldn't work out how much to open the gas -- sometimes I was giving too much and the bike was moving around on the exits of the corners. It is a bad race to end a disappointing weekend. I just have to keep the faith that my team can help me find a solution. Unfortunately I am a very sensitive rider with a specific style and it seems this bike is not the best solution for me. I'm really upset. "
Fausto Gresini: "That definitely wasn't an easy race but we have to take the positives and look forward. Simoncelli needed to get some kilometres under his belt after the crashes in testing, which set back his education and work programme. It was important for him to finish the race here in Qatar and he did a great job. Without doubt we have higher targets than this and I and obviously not happy with the disappointing race by Melandri. We all have to reflect on this individually then work together to see how we can improve. It's fair to say that for myself, the team, the riders and Honda the objective is to improve quickly and hopefully we can start to do just that in Japan."