Reigning 250GP world champion Hiroshi Aoyama has finished close to a second faster than highly-rated Italian Marco Simoncelli during a special rookies test in Sepang.
Aoyama, who beat Simoncelli in a thrilling 250GP title decider in Valencia in early November, ended the three-day test in the Far East with a best time of 2.02.3.
That left the Japanese rider just 0.2s outside of the lap record held by factory Ducati rider and 2007 world champion Casey Stoner.
Aoyama, who will ride for the new Interwetten Honda squad in 2010, said: “It was very important that we had the test in Sepang at this time of the year. The circumstances were ideal; apart from the rain on Tuesday afternoon.
"I have to learn a lot, because the MotoGP bike is so much different from the 125 and 250cc machines.
"I have to get used to the traction control and to the fact that all works electronically. I am satisfied with the work of these days, but I want to do more.
"Now I will travel back to Japan and spend some time with my family and friends and when I come back to Barcelona in January I will spend more time with analyzing the data from this test in order to be prepared for the next test in February, when we come back to Sepang.”
Aoyama’s crew chief Tom Jojic, who previously worked for Team Roberts, said: “I think the test was perfect.
"Hiroshi is a very ambitious and strong rider with a very complex technical ability.
"Today’s lap time of 2’02.3 was only two tenths of a second slower than the circuit record and that really is a good result.
"We worked at this test, such as at the test in Valencia, with the bike from 2009. The 2010 bike we will have for the next test in Sepang in February
"All in all I am quite happy with the course of this test, which was an improvement to Valencia already. Hiroshi was half a second faster than his main competitor at this test, who used the same bike and same breaks like us.”
Former 250GP world champion Simoncelli was 0.9s further back as he continued to adapt to the Gresini Honda RC212V machine.
Only Aoyama and Simoncelli attended the test, which concluded today in typically searing hot conditions at the Sepang circuit.
New factory Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista tested in Estoril in late November while reigning World Superbike champion Ben Spies didn’t test after his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 debut in Valencia last month.
The entire MotoGP field will kick off 2010 preparations in Malaysia on February 4 when the first of three official pre-season tests commences.