Team San Carlo Honda Gresini´s two riders return to a circuit that has seen some of their most famous moments this weekend, as the MotoGP World Championship paddock pitches up at Sachsenring.
Marco Melandri took his first ever pole position and a victory here during his time in the 125cc class, as well as two wins in 250cc and a second place in MotoGP in 2006, when he missed out on the win by just 0.145 seconds.
Marco Simoncelli has stood on the top step of the podium in Germany for the past two seasons in 250cc, adding to a podium in 125, making this without doubt one of the more favourable tracks for the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini pair.
After struggling throughout the last race in Barcelona with the injuries suffered at Assen the previous weekend, Melandri is hoping he can return to something like peak physical fitness as he looks to take advantage of the technical improvements made previously at Silverstone.
For Simoncelli, meanwhile, the goal is to make up for his disappointment in Spain, where he was within touching distance of his best result of the season. His constant progress could well be consolidated with a top result at a circuit where he has celebrated success for the past two years. "Super Sic" is closing the gap to the category´s leading riders and is hoping to make another major step in their direction at a circuit he always enjoys.
Marco Melandri says: "After the satisfaction of finishing the race in ninth place at Barcelona I went through the worst three days since suffering my injury. I have been in so much pain and it has made me realize that the decision not to get back on the bike immediately at Assen was the right one because it would have seriously hindered my recovery."
"Now I am feeling better and I go to Sachsenring feeling confident and hopeful of improving on that ninth place from Barcelona and getting back to the positions near the front, where I was running before the injury. I like the track – there isn´t a lot of braking so that is a good thing for my current condition, although on the other hand there are a lot of left-handers. It is still one of my favourite circuits, where I have several victories and should have one more from the 125cc race in ´98, when I crashed out of the lead. I won the following year and also took my first 250 win there too. In MotoGP in 2006 I had a great race with Rossi, Hayden and Pedrosa, finishing second just a few thousandths of a second behind Valentino."
Marco Simoncelli says: "At Barcelona I was just a small step away from a great result, which was a shame because it would have been another injection of confidence following up our recent progress. There was frustration after the crash but not disappointment because in any case I was able to see that I can be on the pace near the front. At Sachsenring, a circuit I like, I will try to confirm our recent progress and demonstrate it on track. I have won in Germany for the past two years in 250 and I always seem to get the best out of myself there so I hope I can have another good race and finish it with the result that eluded me in Barcelona."
Fausto Gresini says: "On paper we don´t have the results in MotoGP yet that we´re capable of and I hope they come soon. At Sachsenring we should have Melandri in better shape and able to push and fight for the results he has shown the potential of achieving but has so far missed out on due to bad luck. I hope Melandri can pick up from practice at Silverstone and show his true ability out on the track again."
"Simoncelli was just a step away from a great result at Barcelona, where he showed how competitive he has become in this class. His constant progress is undeniable and he is getting close to the kind of performance that will see him take another huge step forward in quality. Sachsenring is a `friendly´ circuit for both Melandri and Simoncelli and our hopes are more than high that they can both come away with a positive and prestigious result."
TEAM GRESINI AT SACHSENRING
Team Gresini has enjoyed some of its most memorable and exciting moments in motorcycle racing at the Sachsenring circuit, with victories and defeats by the narrowest of margins. In 1999 Loris Capirossi finished second to Valentino Rossi in the 250cc race by just 0.148 seconds, whilst in 2001 it was Daijiro Kato´s turn to miss out by even less – 0.052 seconds – to Marco Melandri, who proved to be the team´s nemesis again in 2002 when he beat Roberto Rolfo.
Sete Gibernau got one back for the team over Valentino Rossi in the final corner of an epic MotoGP race in 2003, taking the flag by a mere 0.060 seconds, although the Italian had the last laugh with wins over Gibernau by 0.685 seconds in 2005 and Melandri – by now riding for the team in MotoGP – by just 0.145 seconds in 2006.