Marco Melandri gave a firm indication that he is not joining the World Superbike Championship to make up the numbers as he posted an impressive pace during his first day aboard the Yamaha R1 at Valencia.
Just days after bidding a less than fond farewell to MotoGP, Melandri and new team-mate Eugene Laverty took to the Spanish circuit for a one-day test.
Enabling him to get acclimatised on both the bike that was campaigned by Cal Crutchlow in 2010 and also the 2011 version, Melandri was on fine form aboard the R1 as he dropped under the 1min 34secs benchmark on soft tyres.
Setting an unofficial best time of 1min 33.9secs on soft rubber and 1min 34.3secs on race rubber, Melandri is already comparing favourably to the outright lap record – held by Ben Spies – of 1min 33.270 and Noriyuki Haga's race lap record of 1min 34.618secs.
“It was a very good first day. In the beginning it was a completely different feeling to a MotoGP bike, much bigger! Lap by lap the feeling got better and better and I really enjoyed it. I was riding smoothly and I was especially happy with the Pirelli tyres, I got a really good feeling for the bike with them. I love the engine, it was impressive so I am very excited to go to Australia and carry on.”
Having struggled with Gresini Honda during his final MotoGP season – which in turn prompted some scathing comments towards the end of his tenure -, Melandri says he has been tempted to World Superbikes by the level playing field on offer.
"In MotoGP there is no chance of being a protagonist if you don't have the right bike or you're not in the right team, in Superbike things are different. There it's the rider that makes all the difference and that's exactly what I'm looking for after a few disappointing seasons.”