Marco Melandri admits he still has to pinch himself to believe that he is sitting sixth in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship standings after nine of 17 rounds.
Of the present MotoGP grid, the Kawasaki ZX-RR is the only bike not to have won a race since the switch to four-strokes in 2002 - and the Italian's 2009 Hayate ride isn't even officially backed, following Kawasaki's winter withdraw from MotoGP.
Nevertheless, Melandri arrives at this weekend's British Grand Prix with 70 points under his belt, compared with 51 for the whole of last season as a factory Ducati rider, and is ahead of his replacement Nicky Hayden as well as factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso.
“Before the championship began, if someone had said to me that at the halfway point of the year I would be sixth and ahead of one HRC guy and one factory Ducati guy, I would not have believed it,” confessed the Italian.
“For sure I cannot finish [the season in sixth], but it is like a dream for me,” he continued. “With this bike, which we didn't even have to race, we are doing good races and having nice battles. I'm happy and looking forward to this weekend.”
Melandri, who finished second in the wet/dry French Grand Prix and briefly led his home Italian Grand Prix, is being linked with a return to Honda Gresini for 2010.