Back on the podium for the first time since 2007 Marco Melandri was a happy man after MotoGp race at Le Mans.
Although Sunday’s MotoGP race at the Grand Prix de France was an unusual contest, the riders changing from wets to slicks midway through on a wet-drying track, Marco Melandri fully deserved his second place at Le Mans.
Before the season few would have predicted that four races into the championship the Italian rider would have achieved three consecutive top tens, his first podium since 2007 and fifth place in the standings with the newly formed Hayate Racing team.
On a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR which was updated over the winter, after John Hopkins and Anthony West both struggled on the 2008 version of the prototype, Melandri has stepped up results on the machine despite the difficult circumstances he face over the winter – as he dealt with uncertainty about his MotoGP future.
On his achievement at the fourth round of 2009 Melandri stated, “It is awesome to be back on the podium. One month and a half ago, to imagine tasting the champagne again would have been so difficult, so it is one of the best feelings I have had in my life. I had a very difficult 2008 season and now I am working to get my speed back.”
Talking through the French race he explained, “It was tough because at the beginning my wet tyres were probably a bit too soft for the conditions that we had and every lap I wanted to change the bike, but it was still too early. When I changed the bike maybe I should have done it a lap later, so I just tried not to make any mistakes and just keep the pace. In the end I managed to have a really good race.”
Looking ahead to his home race next time out in Italy, he added, “I know it will be tough at Mugello but I just want to enjoy today. I must say thanks to my team and to Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna CEO) who helped me to come back in after Kawasaki pulled out. It would be a dream to get a good result in Mugello, so I hope to get into the top ten there.”