Marco Melandri Q&AFollowing four years with Aprilia Racing in the World Superbike Championship, Marco Melandri makes his return to MotoGP for 2015. Before joining World SBK, Melandri spent 13 years in Grand Prix racing.
Though a consistent title contender in World SBK, the 32-year-old Italian was ready for new challenges. He signed with the new Factory Aprilia Gresini team, which will field two prototypes in 2015 MotoGPMelandri had his first shakedown with Aprilia Gresini during the post-season MotoGP tests at Valencia, but will be riding a revised Aprilia during the March tests in Sepang.Melandri, who is teammates with Alvaro Bautista, was recently interviewed by MotoGP. During the talk, he provided some insights on his return to MotoGP.Q. Last summer it looked like you would stay with Aprilia in World Superbikes, but then you eventually signed for their new MotoGP team. Can you explain that process?Marco Melandri: ”My goal was to be with Aprilia in Superbikes for two years, but everything changed unexpectedly when the factory decided to focus their efforts towards the MotoGP World Championship. At first I was hesitant to accept the challenge as I had doubts about the competitiveness of a new bike, whereas there was the possibility of winning in Superbikes. But I was encouraged by the idea of developing a MotoGP bike with the team.”Q. You are returning to MotoGP after four seasons, what are your goals for 2015?Marco Melandri: ”My goal is to improve step by step. If I get the bike to evolve I’ll be satisfied. As for results, perhaps it is too early to talk about a real goal. I think we should at least wait for the test in Qatar (March 14-17) to know what point we are at. My personal motivation depends on the situation around me. The willpower of all the team members, if they work their hardest, that will encourage me to do my best.”Q. In the new team you’ll be with Fausto Gresini, who you have worked with in the past. How is your professional relationship with him?Marco Melandri: ”I’m happy to work with Fausto, who above all is a friend. He helped me a lot during some difficult years. Aprilia brings very important experience that will mean a great collaboration. For Fausto, switching brands after so many years will also be positive.”Q. What are your impressions of Roman Albesiano, Sporting Director at Aprilia?Marco Melandri: ”Romano (Albesiano) has come in at a crucial moment. MotoGP is obviously a big responsibility for him and it won’t be easy, but I’m confident in his ability and I’m sure that his knowledge will serve him well in the project.”Q. What did you find in the first test in Valencia and what goals have you set yourself for the next test in Sepang?Marco Melandri: ”The first contact with the bike did not give too many reference points, because the machine was very different from what I was used to riding in Superbikes. For Malaysia we will have a new bike, with a new chassis and electronics. It will be important to ensure that everything is set-up well and that the development of the bike is moving in the right direction. That will give me the confidence to perform at the level I’m capable of.”
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.