Marco Melandri was thrilled to walk away from Phillip Island this weekend having returned to the podium for the first time since he left the Superbike World Championship at the end of the 2014 season.
The Italian was pushed to MotoGP by Aprilia in 2015 but unhappy with the project, he separated with the team and hadn’t raced since until he rolled out with the Aruba Ducati squad on Saturday.
While his pace was there from the off, two years away from racing showed in the opening encounter as a mistake saw him suffer a DNF, but a spectacular fightback saw him fight tooth and nail for the podium in Sunday’s second race – something the former MotoGP runner-up was pretty happy with considering he doesn’t feel he’s at 100%.
“A podium is always important but after two years without racing, it is even more important,” he said. “I knew I was ready to come back strong but this gives me more confidence. After a year and a half away I don’t think I am quite 100%. Sunday was like 22 qualifying lap times because I did not have time to think. Sometimes I even forgot to breathe. I was very tired and also very hot. I need time to recover all the systems that make me a racer.”
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