Marco Melandri admits he will be under pressure to build on his and BMW's newly established lead in the World Superbike Championship as the final portion of the 2012 season begins at the team's home circuit of Nurburgring.
A win and a second place last time out at the Moscow Raceway saw Melandri catapult himself into the lead of the standings, signalling the first time BMW has led both the rider and manufacturer standings.
Indeed, 2012 has proven to be a breakthrough season for BMW since signing Melandri, the Italian claiming its maiden victory at Donington Park, a feat he has repeated on a further five occasions on the way to taking over at the top of the standings in Russia.
Giving him an 18.5 point advantage over erstwhile leader Max Biaggi with three rounds and six races remaining, Melandri is pleased to be arriving in Germany as the rider to beat, but he concedes there will be pressure associated with both consolidating his lead and challenging for victory.
“It is great to come to the BMW home round at the Nürburgring leading the championship,” he said. “However, this may also mean even more pressure, because everybody will expect a good result. I am sure the races will be difficult, because Aprilia will work hard and try to regain the lead. We will see though.
“Last year was my first time at the Nürburgring and I really like the track. Race one was good for me, I finished second. In race two it was very wet, so it was quite difficult. The track is good fun. It is very technical. The first section is pretty tight, but after that the layout is quite fast and smooth and I think it will suit my riding style. Last year I had a lot of fun and I am sure that this can be the case this year too.
“I think that our RR will run well there. If all goes according to plan, I am sure we can be competitive in the races. We have to improve our pace in qualifying, because we still struggle with the soft tyre. But I am happy, I feel good and I am ready to fight again.
“We still have six races to go, which is a lot. It is never easy because there are many fast riders and there is always the possibility of mistakes. The last few races have seen a lot of major changes in the championship. You can score many points, but you can also drop points. We need to focus on each individual race and to do our best to pick up some more wins and stay in front.”