Marco Melandri could make a shock return to Ducati next season as he looks to make his World Superbike comeback in 2017.
The Italian has made no secret of his desire to return to World Superbikes on a race-winning machine since he was unwillingly moved to Aprilia’s MotoGP project in 2015 and with Ducati keen to spice up the series, it could be a perfect pairing.
The Aruba Ducati squad are the only team to have come close to beating the seemingly unstoppable Kawasaki dream team, making the Panigale R seat alongside Welshman Chaz Davies one of the most desirable in the paddock.
While current rider Davide Giugliano has demonstrated a clear ability to be fast and currently lies fourth in the championship, it’s almost certain the Borgo Panigale factory will ditch the Italian next year.
The entire Ducati management structure has changed since Melandri’s fateful time with the firm in Grand Prix, with Gigi Dall’Igna and Paolo Ciabatti now at the helm of the manufacturer’s racing department.
With a proven frontrunner already set to line-up for Ducati next year in Davies, Corse bosses admit they are keen to give their second seat to a character who could spice up what has become an unfortunately monotonous series.
Speaking to MCN at the German Grand Prix, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti confessed their interest in Melandri for exactly that reason: “We’ve been considering a few riders but the final decision has not been made. Melandri is one of these names; the others are Laverty and van der Mark.
“Giugliano has had good results, but in the end I think we need to see both rider value and promotional value so we can keep the series interesting.”
MCN understands Laverty and van der Mark are close to deals with other manufacturers, placing Melandri firmly in the hot seat to join Davies next year.
For more on who’s going where in WSB next year, see today’s MCN.
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