Marco Melandri has ascended to second in the World Superbike Championship standings after notching up a hard fought third win of the season at Motorland Aragon.
Coming into race day as a hot favourite for victory having shown a searing turn pace ahead of Superpole, though Melandri started both races from the second row in fifth place, he quickly shuffled his way to the front group on each occasion.
Getting embroiled in an absorbing tussle with Aprilia's Max Biaggi
during race one, the pair would swap the lead several times before Biaggi got the break on the penultimate lap to deny an admittedly 'disappointed' Melandri.
“In race one we had a good battle and I just missed a little bit of speed in the end to try to beat Max. In the beginning I first had to overtake Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes. Then I had to push hard to catch up with Max who was leading.
“Once I was there, I tried to overtake him, but it was not easy as I struggled with my rear tyre. When I was in front, I would have preferred to make it difficult for him to pass me back, but he overtook me quite easily. He was faster than me and on the last lap it was hard for me to follow him. It is always nice to be on the podium, but I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed after race one.”
Despite this, a more satisfying result would await Melandri in race two as he toughed it out with Biaggi, Eugene Laverty and Chaz Davies over an intense final five laps.
Shuffling positions continuously, Melandri left it until the final lap to make his move on Laverty, but it was a pass that would prove decisive enough for him to hold on to the chequered flag and secure a precious third victory of the year.
“It is just amazing. To win here is beautiful. I just want to say thanks to my guys, because we made another small step with the bike.
“In race two I put all my effort to get the win. It was not easy because the wind was very strong and the Aprilia guys were pushing hard. In the beginning, Max could not go as fast as in race one and for me it was similar. Eugene was very fast and suddenly with only a few laps to go, Max overtook me. I passed him back but went wide and so Chaz and Eugene went past me.
“They were riding so strongly and so fast that it was not easy. For the last lap I had no plan, because when racing against those guys you cannot think about a plan because they try to pass you at every corner so I just tried to find a good place for braking at the end of the straight. To win was so amazing. Now we will try some more things in the test tomorrow and keep working in this direction for the next races.”
The result sees Melandri return to second in the overall standings, the Italian now 48 points behind his countryman Biaggi, while the result has helped BMW close the gap on Aprilia and Ducati in the manufacturers' standings.