Marco Melandri feels he was in good shape to win BMW's first World Superbike Championship race at Assen had it remained dry throughout the opening encounter.
The Italian made strong gains from his ninth place starting position to clamber his way up to second position, the former MotoGP rider tailing leader Tom Sykes for the opening half of the race, whilst also fighting a rear guard action from Jonathan Rea and team-mate Leon Haslam.
When Sykes pulled off with a technical issue, Melandri emerged out in front, but his 'reward' for moving into the lead would see him hit the De Bult corner first just as the heavens opened, the lack of grip subsequently sending him off the bike.
Prompting the red flags to be deployed, Melandri was allowed to make the restart, but while he would start from pole position, a poor wet weather set-up would drop him to an eventual ninth place at the chequered flag.
“It has been a very tough weekend. Today, the most important thing was to bring home points. Race one was pretty good for us when it was dry. I had a very good start and I was following Tom Sykes. I was waiting for the best moment to pass him, when he had an engine failure [problem]. There was a bit of confusion and after that,
“Leon was leading, but I passed him. I saw that some drops of rain had come down. My dream was that they would completely stop the race, so I tried to stay at the front. Suddenly there was a turn where it was wet, I did not see the water and went down. Unfortunately our race was compromised by the wet conditions after the re-start. I did not have any grip, so it was difficult to be confident.”
Opting for slick tyres all-round ahead of a second race to be held on a drying circuit, Melandri took time to get into his stride but was able to make good gains in the latter stages. However, after getting embroiled in a boisterous tussle with Eugene Laverty and Haslam, he was only able to get between them in fourth.
“For race two we had a good set-up and a good choice of tyres, but unfortunately we got some chatter again. From the first lap on it was very difficult to control the bike so I could not push properly. The last lap was exciting. I tried to pass Eugene and suddenly both Eugene and Leon were in front of me, but I passed them back.
“It was great fun and Leon, Eugene and me showed respect for each other which was very important. I am disappointed because I missed the podium only by a little bit but we are working hard and we are in a good shape.”
Now one of only two riders to finish every race inside the top ten this season, Melandri holds onto fifth in the standings, though he is tied with fourth place man Sylvain Guintoli.