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WSBK Monza: Melandri: My championship starts now…
12 May 2013
Marco Melandri has sent out a warning to his World Superbike rivals, claiming his win and second place finish at Monza signals the start of his championship fight back after a disappointing beginning to the year.
The Italian came into the season as the title favourite aboard the BMW GoldBet S1000RR HP4, but an indifferent opening three rounds had already left him 60 points adrift of Sylvain Guintoli heading to his home round at Monza.
Going on to qualify fifth, Melandri established himself in the lead group during race one, biding his time in the pack before striking for the lead on the final lap. Going head-to-head with former team-mate Eugene Laverty, the pair would swap positions three times before Melandri decisively dived down the inside at the Parabolica to get the run to the chequered flag.
Completing his first win of the season, and a third for BMW, Melandri was thrilled to secure a memorable victory on home soil for the first time since winning the 250cc Italian Grand Prix back in 2002.
“It was an unbelievable day for me. To finish first and second here in Monza is just awesome and it feels great after we had a difficult start to the season. Race one was unbelievable. I knew that my race pace was quite good, even if we struggled a bit in qualifying.
“When we started, I knew that it would be very tough until the last corner. When Eugene passed me on the last lap, I thought it would be impossible to pass him back again, because he was very good in the turns and he was pulling away.
“But in the last corner I was quite close, I knew that I could go a little bit faster than the others and so I overtook him and, even though I was a little bit wide, I kept full throttle until the finish line. Until the chequered flag, I was talking to my RR, telling her 'go, go, go' – that was incredible.”
Looking to make it a double in race two, Melandri once again manoeuvred himself into the top four lead pack, but while he looked primed to tackle Laverty on the final lap once again, he couldn't quite get the better of the Aprilia rider.
Nonetheless, as the highest-scoring rider of the day with results that lift him to fourth overall – 44 points behind Guintoli -, Melandri feels he can now begin to mount a belated title challenge.
“In the middle of race two I was a little bit faster than the two guys in front of me, but I could not try to pass. But when Sylvain made a little mistake, I overtook him and then tried to catch Eugene, but he was a bit too far away.
“Anyway, I was also very happy with second place. Now I am confident because I feel that the feeling with the bike is coming back. I can brake and go into corners aggressively, it is my riding style. I am sure that from now on we can fight with the top guys at every race.
“Thanks a lot to my team because they are working so hard and I am sure our championship will start now. And I also want to say 'Grazie' to the many fans who came here today. It was just awesome to see the grandstands.“
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