Marco Melandri has vowed to repay Honda team boss Fausto Gresini with a storming finish to a disastrous 2007 season before he quits to join Casey Stoner in Ducati’s factory team.
The Italian admitted after claiming only his second front row grid position of a tough 2007 campaign that he was struggling to block thoughts of his imminent move to Ducati out of his mind.
But he said he will be going all out to make sure he bows out of the Gresini Honda squad in style in tomorrow’s Malaysia GP in Sepang after claiming third on the grid behind Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.
“It will not be easy to be really focused on the last two races because I’ve been thinking about next year a lot. But I want to finish strongly. Fausto has given me a very good chance for the last three years and I appreciate that. I would like to finish strongly to give him a very good memory about me, “said the former world 250 champion, who has scored only two podiums this season.
Melandri has had a torrid time on Honda’s RC212V contender and has struggled to make any impact all season, despite riding on dominant Bridgestone tyres.
But he said this weekend his feeling with the bike had been as good as it has all year and he added: “We started pretty good yesterday morning and continued from there. We have been working pretty well on the bike and also with the tyres we did a good job. The new surface is much more bumpy than before and actually for myself it looks like a bit better for me. I could ride like I want, and I had a good feeling with the front today like I never had before this year. So with the qualifier I could also push very hard while riding smooth. I’m pretty confident for tomorrow.”
Melandri said his toughest choice for tomorrow’s penultimate race would be which rear tyre to select, as the performance of his Bridgestone allocation is so good.
In a scenario that the Michelin riders can only dream of, Melandri said: “The problem is we have only good tyres so it is not easy too choose. I haven’t run one for more than 15 laps so we will have to make sure we choose the right one to last for the race. I’m quite confident in my Bridgestone technicians and I’m looking forward to it.”