Marco Melandri is looking forward to working with Casey Stoner next season

Marco Melandri is looking forward to working with Casey Stoner next season


Australian MotoGP: Marco Melandri relishing prospect of partnering Casey Stoner

By Matthew Birt -


 11 October 2007 18:30

Italian Marco Melandri has said he is undaunted at the prospect of joining new world champion Casey Stoner in Ducati’s factory MotoGP squad next season.

Marco Melandri signed a two-year deal to partner the 21-year-old Aussie earlier this season at the American MotoGP in Laguna Seca.

The former world 250 champion has endured a nightmare campaign with the Gresini Honda squad, struggling to make any impression on the new RC212V 800 machine.

Ducati’s Casey Stoner has dominated the 2007 season with eight victories to clinch the title before his home race in Phillip Island this weekend.

And while Marco Melandri said matching Stoner would be a tough challenge, he was confident of being able to mount a more serious title threat in 2008.

“I appreciate the chance to be with Casey next season. The motivation will be very high. It will not be an easy challenge for me, everybody thinks I can have some negative reasons for joining him but I don’t see that.

“Casey will be number one on the track so for me it’s the best thing to have the same bike. If I have to follow him with a bike that I don’t like, which has been the case this season there is no chance to be fast,” said Melandri, who has been an outspoken critic of Honda this season.

Marco Melandri added: “We got the bike pretty late and from the beginning I had such a difficult feeling with the bike. I made many requests to change something but we couldn’t modify too many things.

“Honda wanted to improve the factory bikes so every satellite rider didn’t get so many development parts for their bike. I’ve just spent this year following the top guys.”

With typically mixed weather conditions predicted for this weekend’s Australian MotoGP, Marco Melandri believes the worse the weather the better for him.

He won last year’s historic Australian MotoGP, which was the first ever flag-to-flag race, and he’s only featured prominently at the front of races in 2007 where conditions have been less from perfect.

His best result of second came in appalling wet conditions in the Le Mans MotoGP in France earlier this season, and he said: “I’ve had the chance to be fast in very difficult conditions this year so bad weather for me this weekend will be sunny.”