Marco Melandri marked his much anticipated debut with the BMW team at Phillip Island with a fabulous fight back from 13th on the grid to second position, a result that in turn doubles up as the manufacturer's best ever finish at WSBK level.
The Italian, runner-up with Yamaha in 2011, has endured a troubled start to his life as a BMW rider, a struggle that seemed to be compounded when he could only manage 13th on the grid in qualifying.
Nonetheless, over a race distance Melandri was transformed into a front runner as he scythed his way up the order during the opening encounter, eventually prevailing in an intense fight for second position between himself, Sylvain Guintoli and Tom Sykes.
Marking BMW's best-ever result since joining the series in 2009, Melandri was thrilled, as well as surprised, to be celebrating a podium on his debut for the team.
“I am really happy! Giving BMW its best ever result in only my first race on the RR is awesome. I still cannot believe that. The guys at the circuit and in the factory are working really hard, and they have done a great job.
“We didn't quite know how we would perform in the race as we hadn't done any long runs in pre-season testing. During the race I just tried to keep my rhythm and tried not to override as I knew I would have to look after the tyres.
“I had to wait for the right moment to pass Tom Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli. In the final two laps Sylvain was pushing very hard again, but I kept focused on my race and defended my position.”
Warmer conditions took their toll on Melandri in race two, restricting him to sixth place at the chequered flag, but as he leaves Australia with second in the standings, he is otherwise pleased with the outcome of his weekend.
“Race two was very difficult,” he added. “It was warmer, so I had to push harder to catch the guys in front of me, and it was not easy. But we finished the first weekend second in the championship, and that is better than expected.
“Now we have one month to analyse the data and try to make even more improvements. We will go testing in Spain and all the guys are working hard. We all have the same goal and I very happy to see the motivation is high.
“Last, I want to send my sympathy to the family of Oscar McIntyre who we lost yesterday.”