Free At Last: Melandri Released By Aprilia

Marco Melandri has had his last race for Aprilia in MotoGP. The two parties have at last reached agreement to go their separate ways. Aprilia test rider Michael Laverty will replace Melandri for the rest of the 2015 season.

Melandri had always been a reluctant participant in Aprilia's MotoGP project at best. The Italian was halfway through a lucrative two-year deal with Aprilia in World Superbikes in 2014, when Aprilia announced the switch to MotoGP for the 2015 season. Melandri's priority was always to remain in World Superbikes and fight for the championship, and it was clear that Aprilia's first season in MotoGP – a year earlier than anticipated – was going to be a transitional one. At the time, Aprilia's plan was to leave World Superbikes, only later lining up the Red Devils Roma team to run their factory operation. By then, it was too late for Melandri to make the change.

From the very first test, Melandri had no feeling with either the Aprilia RS-GP – an uprated version of the ART which had debuted in 2012 – or with the Bridgestone tires. He complained of a total lack of confidence in the front end, and never looked comfortable or confident on the bike. Melandri was consistently the slowest rider on track, between three and five seconds off the pace, and two seconds or more slower than his teammate, Alvaro Bautista. Melandri never showed any improvement, and any changes Aprilia made did not help improve his confidence.

It was clear that the two parties were heading for a divorce, the only issue being the matter of money. Melandri was rumored to be receiving a seven-figure salary from Aprilia, and was not keen to leave without being paid in full. For their part, Aprilia were unwilling to pay Melandri off in full for what they viewed as an unsatisfactory performance. Negotiations over a departure had been ongoing since Jerez, but it has taken the best part of two months to reach a final accommodation. What that agreement is, is as yet unknown.

Taking Melandri's place in the Gresini Aprilia squad is Michael Laverty. Laverty has been working as a test rider for Aprilia since last year, and has been closely involved in the development of the RS-GP up until now.

Melandri will likely be forced to sit out the rest of the season, but the Italian has been repeatedly linked to a ride with the Yamaha World Superbike team in 2016. That operation is being set up by Andrea Dosoli, who previously ran Yamaha's WSBK team. However, it is yet to be decided which team will run Yamaha's WSBK effort, with both a top BSB team and an existing WSBK team linked to the job. If the BSB team gets the ride, then it seems unlikely they will accept Melandri as a rider.

The official press release from Aprilia appears below:


Noale (Italy), 8 July 2015 - Aprilia Racing and Marco Melandri have reached an agreement by mutual consent to terminate the contractual obligations between Marco Melandri and Aprilia Racing.

Consequently, Marco Melandri will no longer be lined up on the grid with Aprilia Racing starting from the German Grand Prix on 12 July.

Aprilia Racing wishes Marco Melandri all the best in his future endeavors.

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Melandri and Aprilia have finally parted ways. Michael Laverty to ride the Aprilia at least for Germany, likely more.

Suzuki is running old Schwantz era livery and Sachenring is a Suzuki track. Of the whole season, this looks their best opportunity. 6th gear is barely touched, hardly any gear changes, and the throttle is only fully open for a meager 10% of the lap. Run the soft tire!

The diminutive track fits well with diminutive Pedrosa who has a solid likelihood of joining the front group here relative to other tracks.

With so little passing opportunity perhaps we will see more bump and grind. Race direction is surely on high alert.

Best of luck Marco, shake it off and head straight over to Yamaha ASAP and get to work with the R1 development. The BSB folks have done a good bit of sorting, and we are all ready to see you at the other end.

Blessings to the Noyes family and caring community, you are well held.

I have not seen a racer of his level look so miserable in my life. He clearly was not feeling his situation at Aprilia. Glad they ended the relationship, it was killing me watching someone who had once been a very good Motogp racer against whoever was champion at the time on his good days. Hopefully he will be able to get what he wants and needs in the future.

This all stems back to WSBK and Marco's open reluctance to follow team orders. I can only imagine what would have happened had fan favourite Sylvain not won the championship.

He must still think that he's still a special rider with unique skills, but those days are long gone. This is the only quality that he's shown all season.

So, who on earth will take a chance on a once fast rider, who has been clearly very spoiled based on past laurels but is now simply recalcitrant, bored, and slow.

Bye bye Marco, we won't miss you at all.

Please, a little more respect wouldn't hurt, would it?
As a former world champion and runner-up on multiple occasions I think he has earned our respect. No need to kick him while down.

I've always enjoyed watching him mixing it up at the front while at the top of his game.

....for a guy that's a world champion and packing about 20 years worth of professional racing experience and forty-something wins.

Outside of his current troubles on the Aprilia, Melandri rides with incredible style, lights the fuse in the second half of the race and has produced some of the most brave and beautiful passes in the game.

To respect the sport is to respect the rider.

wanted to reply, but I'm sure whatever I wright here will go in one ear and out the other without making the smallest change in your opinion about Marco.

your post is unworthy.

Not a bad situation. He gets to ride in the premier class and if he's within 4 seconds it'll be a success!

Have the Rossi run Yamaha WSBK rumors been quelched?

Well, he is not slow. We must remember how he destroyed the field after sepang in WSBK. They got some settings right, and man flew like no one else. Baz was no where near Marco in most of races, and look at the giant now, winning open class, while Melandri has been laped! It is hard to believe, but, to me, motivation is the key. I liked the guy once. but now days...not so much. He made too much mess in WSBK.

Regarding Sachs&Suzuki. Sadly, I don't believe that they will be much closer in the race as elsewhere. Seamles gearbox is a must in this racefield. We saw very clear rises in form at Yamaha, when they introduced seamless box for up-shifts, and now again, with fully semaless. Suzuki has't got one. and riders must work much much harder than other factory guys. I hope i'm wrong.

- Melandri is a formidable talent who is capable of putting on a spectacular show when the conditions are right

- Melandri also seems to be capable of putting on an epic sulk when things don't go his way: team arrangements, bike performance etc.

On balance this season has looked more like deliberate lack of effort on his part rather than a failure to gel with the bike and the tyres. He might have come back to MotoGP against his will but hey, you should whistle while you work ... particularly if you hope to work again in future.

"you should whistle while you work ... particularly if you hope to work again in future."

And earning a 7 figure salary to boot. There's a part of me that would rather watch him suffer out the rest of the season.

The worst enemy to Melandri's legacy in racing is Melandri himself.

Confidence in your rubber is known throughout MotoGP (and other unnamed endeavors) to being a key factor to the riders for finishing without any unwanted side effects. Mainly big getoffs where harm with sometimes lasting consequences reach out and slam you into reality.

Melandri has never gotten on well on BS rubber and that didn't change on the Aprilia. I wondered what they were thinking when they put him on it to begin with, they waited a half season to understand what most everyone else knew from the start.

It seemed a crazy move. One only has to look his performance when BS took the tire spot in GP. Hell, Ducati sent him to a shrink. I don't care for Marco and his attitude but there's no mistaking his talent. Put him on the WSBK Aprila,Kawi,or Duc and he'd be at the sharp end winning races.

well, I don't buy it. I don't believe that he is unable to feel the tires so much. He was running decent pace on Hayate-Kawasaki afterall. Especially comparing his results with West&Hopper from previous year! He even put the thing on podium!! All this while racing Kawasakis one year old spare parts on Bridgestones.

Ah yes. I did forget about the black bikes. Who knows why he did decent on them. But it's been said many times that Marco just can't get the stones to work for him. He has no confidence and without that, he can't push the stones hard enough to get them to really start working. Unfortunately for Marco. He just couldn't suffer through one shit year to see what 2016 and new rubber might do. Every time you see a pic or video of him in the garage. He looks like he being forced to be there. That might be ok for some of us at our jobs but not a GP rider. Mentally he's done with GP. Hopefully he'll end up in WSBK again.

Melandri has always struck me as a "mental" rider: when his head is in the right place, he is incredibly fast. If you look at his history in MotoGP, he has been wildly inconsistent (outside of 2005 when he was runner up...solidly beating Sete).

I don't think Melandri was kicked to the curb at all. He did exactly what he did with Ducati. That is; he wanted out and negotiated a way to get what he wanted. This article points out that he never wanted to ride the MotoGP project bike and that his contract was for two years, with the understanding he would contest World Superbike for them again this season. Aprilia changed all that on him by announcing they would not contest Superbike! Then they reversed direction and did it anyway, but not with Melandri... In my view, Aprilia is a bumbling organization. I am not saying they negotiated in bad faith, but they made their own bed and Marco deserves to get paid regardless of his performance on the track in MotoGP. And I get why Marco wanted to stay in Superbike. He got paid like a MotoGP rider, yet the series was more fun. There is a pretty good list of former MotoGP racers who enjoyed their time in World Superbikes. Who wants to spend time in a job they hate?

... still be a factor in WSB. I think it'd be great if he and Cameron Beaubier ended up riding on the soon-to-be Yamaha SBK team for next year.