The atmosphere in the San Carlo Honda Gresini garage was understandably sombre as the team made its return to racing at Valencia, two weeks on from the tragic events in Malaysia. The loss of Marco Simoncelli continues to be felt throughout the paddock and Fausto Gresini admitted they were still coming to terms with the loss.
“There is so much sadness in our garage today. The atmosphere was surreal without ‘Super Sic’ there and it has been extremely difficult to tackle the day. It goes without saying that he is missed but it was important for us to be here and honour his memory because I am sure this is what he would want.”
Hiroshi Aoyama is the sole Gresini Honda rider this weekend and he struggled in the soaking wet conditions, crashing during the second session on his way to 15th, but the Japanese rider is still hopeful of paying a fitting tribute to his late teammate in his final Grand Prix.
The conditions made life hard today and I had a crash. The grip levels weren’t the best and even though I tried to find the limit it was very hard and I am not happy with the result. I hope I can be faster tomorrow and on Sunday. This is an important Grand Prix for me because it is my last in MotoGP and I am desperate to have a good race to honour Marco, who we are all missing greatly. I will try to do my best for all these reasons.”
Team Manager Fausto Gresini shrugged off the potential effects of today's crash and expects Aoyama to bounce back tomorrow.
“Hiroshi tried to find the limit in difficult conditions but it was tough for him. I am sure he will give his best on Sunday in Marco’s name.”