San Carlo Honda Gresini has officially launched its all-Italian 'dream' team for the 2010 MotoGP World Championship – with strong hopes that between them, Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli will be able to fly the flag high and 'put a true flavour of Italy out on the track'.
The Faenza-based outfit achieved seventh and eighth-place finishes in the final riders' standings last year with Toni Elías and Alex de Angelis, but both men have since been shown the door. In their stead have come Melandri – a Gresini Racing returnee, having proven to be Valentino Rossi's closest rival for the MotoGP laurels back in 2005, and remaining on-board until he made an ill-fated switch to Ducati Corse three years later alongside Casey Stoner, followed by a similarly unsuccessful move to Kawasaki's Hayate Racing Team last season – and namesake and fellow former 250cc World Champion Simoncelli, who is preparing to make his premier class bow.
The team, riders and 2010-liveried Honda RC212V were unveiled at the Telenova studios in Milan, where popular presenter Franco Bobbiese – known for his show 'Griglia di partenza' ('Starting Grid') – introduced the all-Italian line-up to the world's media. It was, confirmed team manager Fausto Gresini, a proud moment indeed.
“Today was a really special day,” acknowledged the erstwhile two-time 125cc World Champion. “A personal dream of mine has been fulfilled – having two top [Italian] riders contest the MotoGP World Championship with my team and an Italian sponsor like San Carlo. I am proud to represent Italy around the world, and I am looking forward to going racing this year – hopefully we can ensure that our flag flies high at circuits all over the world.”
“People make the difference,” underlined San Carlo president Alberto Vitaloni, as the partnership enters its third consecutive campaign. “That is what I thought when I met Fausto Gresini for the first time. I had been offered other opportunities to enter the world of motorcycle racing previously, but I was never fully convinced when it came to taking the plunge. As soon as I shook hands with Fausto, I realised that we had an instant understanding and that we could work well together.
“Professionalism is not something that comes by chance – it comes through hard work, through having concern for others and the instinct to predict change and being able to move with the times. They are all characteristics I appreciate in my partners, and characteristics I also see in every single person who works with Fausto. For this reason, San Carlo decided to embrace this project a couple of years ago and will continue to do so this season.
“The San Carlo Honda Gresini team has become a joint force that is evolving over time and that is encountering various areas of mutual understanding as well as being two very Italian entities. That last point has even more relevance this year and is an extra reason to work together. For the first time in many years, two Italian riders will compete together in MotoGP for an Italian team. This hasn't happened since 1982, with Team Gallina. For such a proudly patriotic brand as San Carlo, it is nice to be able to put a true flavour of Italy out on the track.”
Twenty-seven-year-old Melandri, for his part, is aiming to banish the memories of two torrid years away from the sharp end of the grid, whilst his young compatriot Simoncelli – who found himself briefly hospitalised in the wake of a monster high-side at Sepang last week that left him with a broken helmet, but fortunately no serious injuries – is simply eager to get out on the circuit and kick his new challenge firmly into gear.
“It has been a different and enjoyable day,” Melandri enthused. “Professional engagements like this are always good fun as far as I am concerned. The afternoon was like the warm-up and the evening was like the race, when we went live on-air for 'Griglia di partenza' on Telenova!”
“I'm really happy to be at this presentation,” concurred Simoncelli, “although I would prefer to be on my bike! I think this could be a really good year for us. We need to work well from the start, but I really think we can give ourselves plenty of reasons to celebrate!”