Marco Melandri

2008 Donington QP Report

The weather had been forecast to be poor for the 2nd day of practice, and boy, where the weather forecasters right. Both this morning's free practice and this afternoon's qualifying practice took place in full rain. And like the morning's session, the afternoon's qualifying saw the wet weather specialists leap straight to the top of the table. Within ten minutes of the session starting, the tables were headed by three Australians: Casey Stoner, Chris Vermeulen and Ant West. Vermeulen and West will be no surprise, both men being renowned specialists in the rain - Vermeulen's protests that he doesn't like the rain notwithstanding - and Stoner has always coped very well in the wet.


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More Images From Day 1 At Donington

Another report and some more fantastic photos from our man on the ground Scott Jones of Turn2Photography. Scott is currently attending the British Grand Prix at Donington Park as a spectator, as official accreditation from Dorna is virtually impossible to come by. Here's Scott's view of the first day of qualifying at Donington:

Notes from Donington

Friday seemed like last year’s Saturday in terms of the number of fans in attendance, according to a friend who chalked up the impressive workday crowd to James Toseland’s popularity at his home GP. We overheard one child tell a friend he met at the track that his mum had phoned his school to say he had been vomiting all night and had to stay home, at which point she piled him into the car and headed for the races. Toseland’s name and number 52 dominate the apparel for sale, and from the shirts and hats appearing among the crowd it is hard to say who is currently more popular: Rossi or Toseland.

Rossi seems to be respecting Toseland’s stature on home turf, playing less to the crowd than he usually does on neutral territory. He seemed focused on his lap times, a man at the office, so perhaps he was more worried about Stoner’s lap times than he was his popularity in Britain.

Marco Melandri seems as at sea as ever. We watched the morning practice at the Foggy Esses, and more times than not, or so it seemed, Melandri struggled to find his braking point, often sailing in too hot and running the lefthander deep, having to look over his shoulder to see if his path back onto the racing line would encumber other riders.

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Gibernau At Mugello: Approaching Melandri's Times After Just 40 Laps

The news that Sete Gibernau would be returning to MotoGP to test the Ducati Desmosedici bikes raised a flurry of interest when it was announced last week. It launched a veritable firestorm of speculation about a possible return to racing, and whether the arrival of Gibernau made Marco Melandri's position at Ducati even more precarious. There was also the question of whether nearly two years away from racing would have dulled Gibernau's race reflexes so much that he would no longer be competitive. Only test times from Mugello would tell.

After two days of testing, we finally have times to base a judgment on. Frustratingly, though, weather conditions in Mugello are more British than Italian, meaning that so far Gibernau's track time has been limited to just 20 laps on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and even those laps have been ridden under track conditions which are far from ideal.

Despite the damp, Gibernau is still apparently in good shape. On Wednesday, the Spaniard set a fastest lap of 1'52.6 on the GP9, which uses the new carbon-fiber chassis. Although still 4 seconds off the pole record, and 2 seconds slower than the fastest race lap, that's a perfectly respectable time for a rider who hasn't ridden a MotoGP bike for 21 months, and has only ridden an 800cc MotoGP bike in a few tests at the end of the 2006 season, especially under less than perfect conditions.

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Finally: Marco Melandri Signs With Gresini Honda

At last, the Melandri Saga comes to a conclusion. Gresini Racing has finally announced that Marco Melandri has signed with Gresini for the 2007 season, to ride a Honda V4 800. No details of the deal have been announced, other than that both parties say they are very happy to be working together for next year. Reading between the lines, it seems like Honda has promised extra support for Melandri, the title runner up in 2005, and this is what finally swung the deal for him.

Gresini also stated that he was still looking for a team mate for Melandri next year, so that the team can compete at the very highest level. This does not bode well for Melandri's current team mate Toni Elias, who, after an outstanding debut season on the Yamaha, has struggled somewhat on the Honda.

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Marco Melandri: The Saga Continues...

Well, where just a few days ago, it seemed certain that Marco Melandri would be going to the factory Ducati team, now it looks increasingly like last year's title runner up will be staying with Gresini on a Honda next year. Both and are reporting that Fausto Gresini has matched Ducati's reported offer of € 3 million for next season, an offer which would also include strong factory support from Honda, and, surprisingly, Bridgestone tires. The mystery for all this is where the money is supposed to be coming from, as Altadis, the brand behind Fortuna, are leaving MotoGP, taking their large sponsorship budget with them.

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Michelin Tires At Laguna Seca - A Comparative Study at (or Soup, as it is known in the vernacular) has a great set of comparison images of the Michelin tires at the end of the Laguna Seca race. What is really obvious is that the Yamaha uses its rear a lot harder than the Honda does. Either they have traction control working better, or they have a smoother torque curve. Well worth a look.

You can find the images here.

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Melandri Rides At Assen

Marco Melandri took part in the first free practice session at Assen today, after having received the go ahead to ride from his doctors. The session was longer than usual, due to the major changes at Assen, though rain interrupted at one point, and Melandri set reasonable times. Shinya Nakano was fastest, followed by John Hopkins. FP times to follow later.

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