Marco Simoncelli appears to be edging closer to racing in this weekend's World Superbike round at Imola. The Italian posted a best time of 1'54.21 during testing at Mugello today, after running 49 laps in sets of 10. Simoncelli was not chasing hot laps, but was instead getting used to the bike and the tires, and spent the day running on a medium compound, according to the Italian website GPOne.com.
Simoncelli's times were certainly good enough for Aprilia's Superbike project technical director Gigi Dall'Igna. "He rode with his head," Dall'Igna told GPOne.com, expressing his surprise at how rapid Simoncelli's progress had been at Mugello. A final decision on whether Simoncelli will race at Imola is to be taken at the end of Wednesday's test, but Dall'Igna was fairly confident. When asked whether he thought Simoncelli would race, Dall'Igna replied "I expect he will."
At the same time as Simoncelli was testing, fellow 250 star Mattia Pasini was once again aboard the Ducati Desmosedici. The Italian posted a fairly mediocre time of 1'52.8 after 56 laps, a time some 3 seconds off the pace of the MotoGP regulars, but the track conditions were not ideal. Speculation continues that Pasini is being evaluated for a role at Pramac next season, though talk also continues of Pasini being a reserve rider in the unlikely case that Casey Stoner doesn't make a return to racing after all.
Both Pasini and Simoncelli will continue testing tomorrow, while Pasini will put in a third day of testing on Thursday.