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Bridgestone talks to: Marco Melandri

17 October 2009

A Crash.net feature in which Bridgestone's Tom Tremayne interviews a MotoGP rider at each of the remaining 2009 rounds. At Phillip Island, it's Marco Melandri...

On the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, Italian Marco Melandri has just three races left aboard the Hayate Racing Kawasaki before joining the San Carlo Honda Gresini squad next year.

Marking his return to Honda for the 2010 season, it will be his third change of manufacturer in as many years.

The Italian was last riding a Honda in 2007, the first year in which he competed on Bridgestone tyres.

“Yeah being with Honda before will help going into next year, but I think actually it will be this year and last year that are very very important for me. For sure I will be so much more aware of what I have in my garage and my potential, and I am older and more mature now.

“Last year it was an advantage to already have been with Bridgestone the year before, but this year I don't think it helps so much because the tyres are the same for everyone.”

The 10 times 250cc race winner and 2002 250cc world champion has had past experience of Bridgestone tyres with three different manufacturers: Honda in 2007, Ducati in 2008 and Kawasaki this season.

“I know the tyres so maybe sometimes I know better how to set up the bike, but to explain about the tyres it is important to understand the package between the tyre and bike.

“We only have two types of slick tyre each weekend this year so it is the same for everyone and a little easier for the feeling, but actually this year has been hard for us because we can't develop the bike much for these tyres.”

Kawasaki is withdrawing all of its support from the satellite Hayate Racing Team at the end of the year, but before Marco takes his knowledge of the single supply Bridgestones back to Honda, there are three races still to run aboard the ZX-RR machine.

“I hope to find a good bike at Honda next season and have fun riding it and be back on the podium more often and I'm looking forward to next year, but I have three races this year I want to do well at first”, starting with the race he won in 2006.

“Here in Australia for spectators the location is very good because it's so spectacular, but for us riding it the layout is beautiful. There are fast corners, you have slower corners, and it's very technical so you have everything.

“It's very very important here to have a good feeling with the front of the bike so you can be fast in changing direction and get inside the fast corners and make the bike turn. There are not many areas of hard braking so you have to be very comfortable and smooth and let the bike work.

“Yesterday [Friday] the track was dirty so to keep the bike on a good clean line was difficult and there was not much traction so this makes it hard for us. Today we improved a lot from yesterday though so I hope to keep going tomorrow.”

He did have one scare however, that came during Saturday morning's second free practice in the form of a feathered interloper.

“I saw the bird but by the time I did I couldn't close the throttle in time and I couldn't move the line because I was too fast; I hit him at like 303km/h! I was scared because I thought I broke two fingers but after a few minutes the feeling came good again and my arm is ok. I'm lucky I think, and he is worse than me!”


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