After Yamaha announced that they would cease factory support for their World Superbike team, the team's two riders, Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty, became two of the hottest properties on the World Superbike rider market. Interest was especially keen for Melandri, the former MotoGP winner making a huge impact on his first foray into the World Superbike series, the Italian having switched to WSBK after leaving MotoGP at the end of 2010.
Melandri had offers of factory rides from both Aprilia and BMW, but the prospect of being stuck alongside his arch rival Max Biaggi, in the certain knowledge that he would be the number two rider in the Aprilia garage persuaded Melandri to head to the German manufacturer alongside Leon Haslam. There is still plenty of work to do at BMW - the homemade electronics system is notoriously complex to set up causing problems with tire wear - but if Melandri can help get that sorted using his experience of MotoGP-level electronics (still a couple of years' ahead of the systems used in WSBK) then BMW may finally be able to make the breakthrough to regular wins that they have been looking for. The BMW S1000RR provides an outstanding basis to be competitive, and the aim is for Melandri and Haslam to help the factory make the next step.
The official press release announcing Melandri's signing appears below:
Marco Melandri lines up alongside Leon Haslam for BMW Motorrad Motorsport in 2012.
Munich/Stephanskirchen, 2nd October 2011. BMW Motorrad Motorsport has confirmed its second rider for the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship: alongside Britain's Leon Haslam (28), 29-year-old former MotoGP rider Marco Melandri (ITA) will ride the second BMW S 1000 RR for the team from Munich and Stephanskirchen.
BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Bernhard Gobmeier says: "We are really looking forward to working with Leon and Marco. I am convinced we will have arguably the strongest rider's line up in the Superbike World Championship field. We are delighted to have two riders who are both hungry and experienced for the coming season. That is the next important step for our team." Gobmeier adds: "Marco has performed brilliantly this season, even during difficult periods. He impressed us in his first season in the championship, and we are pleased to be able to welcome him into our team."
Profile: Marco Melandri
|Date of birth:||7th August 1982|
|Place of birth:||Ravenna (ITA)|
|Place of residence:||Ravenna (ITA)|
|Hobbies:||All kinds of motorsports, cycling, music|
|First bike:||Malaguti Grizzly 50ccm|
|First race:||1989, Mini-Bikes, Cattolica (ITA)|
|Career highlight:||250ccm World Champion (2002), 2nd MotoGP (2005)|
|Superbike World Championship record:||22 races, 12 podium finishes, 3 wins, 5 second and 4 third places, 1 pole position, 3 fastest race laps|