Mugello MotoGP: Marco Melandri surprised with brilliant fifth
Marco Melandri admitted he shocked himself after the Italian claimed his best result in MotoGP for over a year.
Starting from a lowly 14th on the grid on board the San Carlo Gresini Honda, the former world 250GP champion made a lightning start to make up seven places on the opening lap.
He moved by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies on the third lap and then took fifth from fellow American Nicky Hayden on lap five before he got locked in a thrilling dice with former factory Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner and French rider Randy de Puniet.
Melandri did get to the front of the battle on laps eight and nine before he came under a fresh attack from Stoner’s GP10 machine.
He regained fourth on lap 13 before de Puniet took over for a brief stint on lap 16. Melandri seized on a mistake at the final corner on the penultimate lap by de Puniet but he was unable to fend off Stoner’s late challenge to finish in a creditable fifth.
Riding his RC212V machine now with Showa suspension and a chassis and swingarm made stiffer by his own Gresini crew to aid handling, Melandri told MCN:
“I was confident from the start that I could make a good race, but not such a strong one as that. In qualifying it was very difficult, and I was only 14th fastest. But I had a very good start, although it wasn’t as good as the one at Le Mans.
"But this time I was more confident with the tyre on the first few laps and I overtook several riders. I took Casey, but by then Dani (Pedrosa) was on another planet. On the last lap Casey and I passed each other three or four times, and I tried to pass him in the final braking, but I made a small mistake and went on the inside kerb and closed the throttle.
"Our problem has been mainly a lack of stability at the front. We’ve also been struggling with the engine character, which is very aggressive. For my riding style it’s difficult because I like a smooth engine. For sure I need to be more consistent from the Friday. Here and at Le Mans my weekend started on the Sunday morning but it was a good ending.”
- For the full story read this week's MCN out on Wednesday