Returning World Superbike racer Marco Melandri labelled the 2nd race at Phillip Island on Sunday as “tough”, after falling victim to the series’ new qualifying format. The Italian crashed out of race one after contact with Alex Lowes’ Yamaha – who the Italian blamed for the incident – at the Southern Loop in race one, placing him on the 4th row in 10th place for the 2nd outing.
The 34-year-old former 250cc Grand Prix champion made great headway, and with nine laps to go, hit the front of the race. Although close at the end, Melandri’s first finish on his return to the series was a podium, of which the ex-Ducati MotoGP rider was content with.
“It was a really tough race today. I got a good start but lost positions in the traffic early on, so I had to push hard to climb back, asking a lot to both myself and the tyres. When I took the lead, I tried to impose my own rhythm but it turned out not to be the right move”, said Marco after the 2nd race.
Melandri went on to say that the full race distance can be used to indicate where to improve the bike. “With three laps to go, when Rea and Davies gave the final push, I was struggling with grip and couldn’t attack them. Still, we needed a full race to understand where to improve, and a podium shows that we’re working in the right direction with the whole team”.
Unlike Davies, it wasn’t the most productive round of his WSBK career, replicating his 2013 results at the track, with a race one retirement and a third place in the 2nd race, on his way to 4th in the title.
The team head to Thailand next, where they have yet to win a race at the new venue. It will also be Marco Melandri’s first time at the circuit. The meeting takes place across the 11th and 12th of March.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko