Hiroshi Aoyama and Marco Simoncelli finished the final day of testing at Sepang on Wednesday, bringing the cycle of extra MotoGP rookie tests to an end. Once again, it was Hiroshi Aoyama who was fastest of the rooking pairing, beating Marco Simonelli's time by a significant margin. Aoyama's fastest lap stopped the clocks at 2'02.3, just two tenths of a second off Casey Stoner's race lap record of 2'02.108 set in 2008, while Simoncelli set a fastest time of 2'03.2, according to Crash.net.
After the test, Aoyama expressed his satisfaction with the progress he had made. "I still have a lot to learn," GPOne.com reports Aoyama as saying, "because the MotoGP bike is so much different from the 125cc and 250cc machines. I have to get used to the traction control and to the fact that all works electronically, but I am satisfied with the work we have done over these days, even though I would like to do more."
Aoyama's crew chief and the Interwetten.com team's Technical Director Tom Jojic concurred. "I think the test was perfect," GPOne.com quotes Jojic as saying. "Hiroshi is a very talented and ambitious rider with outstanding technical skills." These skills had paid off in a time that was very close to the existing lap record, and a significant improvement over the Valencia test, Jojic said. More important, Jojic felt, was the fact that Aoyama was over half a second faster then Simoncelli despite being on virtually identical machinery.
If anything, Simoncelli is on better equipment than Aoyama. The Italian is using the factory-spec RC212V Toni Elias campaigned in the latter half of 2009, while Aoyama has the very satellite-spec Honda used by his former Scot Honda Team running Gabor Talmacsi. It also signals a reversal of fortunes, as Aoyama was clearly the slowest rider at Valencia, but his methodical approach has paid dividends in terms of progress.
The end of the Sepang rookie test sees all on-track action for the MotoGP riders cease for the winter. The riders make a return to action on February 3rd, 2010, when the entire MotoGP field return to Sepang for the first of two tests at the Malaysian circuit.