Marco Melandri made his debut for Ducati’s World Superbike squad in a three-day test alongside Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano at Misano this week.
Marking the first time the Italian has ridden a World Superbike-spec machine since unwillingly leaving the series for MotoGP at the end of 2014, Melandri spent the three days familiarising himself with the Panigale R he will compete upon alongside Davies next year.
Melandri has been out of action since leaving Aprilia’s MotoGP team half way through the 2015 season, and was adamant he would want a thorough testing schedule before a racing return.
“It was a very emotional moment for me to return to the track on a Superbike,” he said. “We worked methodically, progressively getting back in the groove and trying first of all to find the right position on the bike. Then, we tested different chassis and electronics configurations to understand how the bike reacts. I was really impressed by the precision of the front, which is crucial for my riding style. Even without paying much attention to the lap times, we were faster than our expectations. Now I’ll focus on my training program ahead of the next tests.”
Melandri is scheduled to test with the Ducati team again later this year, but the early debut is sure to give rise to rumours he could be set to make his race return before the 2016 season is out.
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