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Reconstructing Melandri.

After two often frustrating seasons in MotoGP with Yamaha - the highlight of which was a pair of podiums early in 2004, before a sudden and drastic decline that saw him fail to score points in seven of the last nine races - Marco Melandri appeared almost a broken man at the end of last season.

With confidence in his team and machinery at an all time low, the former 250cc world champion clearly wanted out of the Tech 3 outfit - and was offered a career saving lifeline by one of the most respected teams in the paddock, Movistar Honda, headed by double 125cc world champion Fausto Gresini.

The resulting 'marriage' has seen Melandri reborn, the Italian shedding his previous frequent faller image and replacing it with a level of pace and consistency hat at times ahs been a match for team-mate, and double MotoGP runner-up, Sete Gibernau.

The result has been a third and fourth from the opening two events of 2005 - placing Marco third, behind only Valentino Rossi and Alex Barros, in the early riders' world championship.

But how did it happen?

It was obvious to Gresini and his massively experienced crew chief Fabrizio Cecchini, that Melandri's talents would only flourish in the correct environment. So they adopted a carefully considered plan to build confidence and calmness in equal parts, and curb the 22-year-old's natural urge to go as fast as possible all of the time.

Gresini is no stranger to helping riders progress their careers. He was a prime mover in the transition of Loris Capirossi from enfant-terrible to double 125-title winner, after Fausto broke his leg and ended his own chance of yet another crown.

Before joining Team Gresini, the already experienced Gibernau was far from the force he is now and Gresini hopes that Melandri can also benefit from the team's family environment and proven technical skills.

"In my opinion Marco has a chance to enjoy a good experience with us in MotoGP," he said. "At 22 he is a very young rider, and with one 250cc title to his credit, he obviously has a lot of potential. But right now what is most important is that he can have a team which is like a family for him. In my team, it is like family."

The family feeling is due to the long relationships enjoyed by some members of staff, who have been an integral part of the outfit since day one.

Related Pictures

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