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GP Week : Issue 31
5 Minutes with ... Marco Melandri It’s been the toughest of tough years for former race winner Marco Melandri. The Italian sat down with MICHAEL SCOTT to discuss his downfall It was from the beginning, not something Former 125 star and 250 World Champion, five times a MotoGP winner (even beating Rossi on several occasions) Marco Melandri has slumped to the bottom of the class this year. Riding the same factory Marlboro Ducati as Casey Stoner, he’s been last or thereabout all year long, and was almost replaced mid-season. The first question to the England-resident Italian was obvious: GPWEEK: What is your problem with the Ducati? MARCO MELANDRI: Just the feeling – I don’t like the power delivery, or the chassis feeling. It’s obviously not a bad bike, though. I don’t think such a thing exists as a good bike or a bad bike. A good bike is the one giving you a good feeling. My story is pretty long. I think too long. I could tell you in maybe some hours. And it would be like a way to find an excuse. I know what is wrong this year, but I couldn’t change it. Would electronics be part of it. For sure, Ducati has, and everybody has, a lot on the electronic side. But when you miss some piece of the puzzle, everything is so difficult. For me the electronic was not working in the right way for my riding style. Because I wasn’t opening the throttle the right way. Would you prefer less electronics? Yeah. I prefer to ride the bike. For me, we have too many controls. We are following every rule of F1, and they have come back on electronic side, so maybe we need to do the same. Also for safety, because you have to ride trusting the electronics, but if something is wrong you’re going to have a big crash. It’s obviously been a hard year for you. When I think about life, I think I am the same as last year. I don’t have any injury or something like that. I am the same, but from the first time I got on this bike I had a bad feeling. 20 like my head getting crazy. I like to do my best from what I can get from my bike. When I had a better feeling I tried to push, then I would go down in a stupid way. So I don’t want to waste all the winter for a stupid crash. Was your self-belief shaken? No, I really believe. Because otherwise I was going to stop racing, that’s for sure. But I have been learning so many things here, and I think I can be stronger than before. Did you come close to quitting? I was in a very difficult time in June, and July. Nothing was helping me to cure the situation. So … it’s been crap. Did you feel people were unkind? That’s normal. I’ve already had a difficult times before so I knew that’s the situation. And this year it’s been even worse. But it’s okay. Like I said, I’ve been learning many things, so I just want to do it my way without listening to everybody else. Because everybody has the solution for me. Everybody knows what the problem is, but it’s just talking. I know I have to do everything alone. I’m just working for the future right now. You’re going to Kawasaki next year, and I believe you tested the bike. (Laughs) No, everybody says that, but I didn’t test actually. Because Capirossi asked me, and I said, yes, I’ve been testing, because he’d been asking me many times until I said to him what he wanted to hear. And if you say it to one person, then it’s everywhere. But I didn’t. I really would like to. It would be nice to test the bike before signing. Looks like this year’s been a good lesson for me this way. Because when I first tested the Ducati I knew from the first lap that my riding style wasn’t good for this bike. I could see the whole season ahead … it was going to be so hard. Was it a wasted year? For experience I learned so much, but for results, yeah. It was easy to get crazy. But it’s made me strong. Right now it’s hard to say this, but I’m sure from bad experience you can get the best. Away from the racing … where are you living these days. Still in England, but I am looking to move back to Italy, because this year it’s been so tough for me, staying alone. When I am not travelling I like to have not so many friends, because I want to just take a rest. But I’ve been thinking too much, about where I can change to improve … so it’s been not nice. It would be better for me to switch off and go to dinner with friends and laugh about … like stupid things you did when you were at school. So you never found yourself going down to the local pub to cheer up? No. Maybe three or four times in four or five years. The life-style is completely different from what I had. Do you have a girlfriend? Yeah, something like that. It’s a strange story – it’s complicated.