Aruba Ducati’s new recruit Marco Melandri is not expecting it to be easy when the 2017 Superbike World Championship gets underway at Phillip Island next week marking his return to racing after two years away.
The Italian hasn’t raced since leaving Aprilia’s MotoGP project in 2015, but makes a return to the Superbike series in which he finished runner-up in 2011 with the Aruba Ducati team.
While many expected him to be off the pace, Melandri impressed during pre-season testing and was able to lap close to the pace set by team-mate Chaz Davies, who after winning seven out of the last eight races in the 2017 season is a clear favourite to challenge back-to-back champion Jonathan Rea for the title this year.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Melandri said. “My feeling with the Panigale R and the team has been great ever since the start, and lap after lap we have discovered our potential, getting closer and closer to the leaders. It’s difficult to make any forecasts because the SBK championship is more competitive than ever, but I can’t wait for the lights to change at Phillip Island to have that feeling of adrenaline again that only racing can give you. It’s not going to be easy to beat our rivals, but we’ll do everything possible to be ready on time, after which…anything is possible.”
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