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Simoncelli and Simón commence Estoril test on top

Simoncelli and Simón commence Estoril test on top

Sunday saw fine weather and perfect riding conditions as the latest 250cc and 125cc preseason test got underway in Portugal.

The quarter litre class World Champion Marco Simoncelli (Metis Gilera) was the fastest man on track at Estoril on Sunday at the end of the first of three days testing for the smaller class riders, whilst Julián Simón topped the 125cc timesheet.

Italian rider Simoncelli started the day in a relaxed manner, allowing Héctor Barberá (Pepe World Pons) to set the pace during the morning session.

In the afternoon, however, the 250cc title holder stepped up his game to improve on his best morning effort by more than three seconds, a 1’41.282s lap putting him on top at the end of the day. Simoncelli had an inconsequential crash with 20 minutes to go before the afternoon session concluded, but the incident should not adversely affect him on the remaining two days in Portugal.

Reviewing day one Simoncelli stated, “It was a good outing, we tested a few new things and we came out as the fastest on track. It was a shame to crash at the end, the temperatures were dropping, I was getting tired and I pushed a bit too hard. I lost control of the front, but fortunately it wasn’t too bad.”

Spanish competitor Barberá was the rider who got closest to Simoncelli’s pace, showing off his new 2009 livery featuring the race number 40 which he switches to for the forthcoming season. Barberá was just 0.017s slower than the World Champion and as the only other rider to have gone under the 1’42 mark he demonstrated that he is recovering well from the serious back injury which cut short his 2008 campaign in Japan last September.

Afterwards, Barberá commented, “We really made the most of things today, I put in plenty of laps testing quite a few different settings with the front end suspension and I kept feeling more and more comfortable. I think we are going in a good direction. The lap times at this stage are not too important, I just need to find the best set-up for the bike before the season starts, so that we can be sure of fighting towards the front of the pack right from the word go.”

Third on the 250cc timesheet, meanwhile, was 125cc World Champion Mike di Meglio. The Frenchman, who rides for the Mapfre Aspar 250cc team as he moves up a category this season, was 0.730s off Simoncelli’s best time. Alex Debón and Roberto Locatelli rounded off the top five, whilst 2008 250cc championship runner-up Álvaro Bautista was 2.4s off the pace in tenth.

In the 125cc class Bancaja Aspar 125cc rider Simón was the quickest participant in the day’s testing, his best time of 1’45.863s keeping him 0.5s ahead of second fastest rider Sandro Cortese (Ajo Interwetten).

Simón’s team-mate Bradley Smith was third quickest, with Sergio Gadea and Pol Espargaró completing the top five.

The were crashes for Karel Abraham and newcomer Vladimir Leonov (twice) in the 250cc ranks. 125cc riders Esteve Rabat and Randy Krummenacher also hit the deck, but no injuries were reported from any rider.

250cc, 2009

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