Marco Melandri says he is approaching Assen with 'concrete optimism' with his Aprilia team amid speculation he will leave MotoGP after a miserable start to the season.
The multiple MotoGP race winner explains his new found positive outlook has come from the mid-season tests at Catalunya two weeks ago, where he tried out a new swingarm for his Aprilia RS-GP machine. Despite the limited running due to stormy conditions, Melandri felt the upgrades made a significant improvement and is ready to push on in the Netherlands this weekend.
“We are going to Assen with a bit of concrete optimism,” Melandri said. “In the Barcelona tests the team provided me with a much longer swingarm that gave me a better feeling. I only took two laps [with new swingarm] because then it began to rain but I noticed that the sensation was good.”
There had been rumours Melandri may have contested his final race for the factory Aprilia team in MotoGP after Catalunya and has been off the pace and at the back of the pack all season, but the Italian squad has confirmed the 32-year-old will race at Assen.
The Dutch circuit holds fond memories for Melandri who has claimed rostrum finishes in MotoGP as well as victories in the 250cc and 125cc classes at the historic tack. The Italian's maiden win in a World Championship class – his 125cc victory in 1998 – also came at Assen and he is hopeful for a positive result this weekend.
“I like this track and I'm confident that we'll be taking some steps forward,” he added. “Alvaro's result [in Barcelona] gave the team a strong signal of reliability. I see the glass as half full.”