Marco Melandri says he feels he has made a breakthrough on the Aprilia RSV4 after two wins and two podium finishes at Sepang and Misano lifted him back into a more competitive World Superbike Championship position.

Prior to round six in Malaysia, Melandri had started coming in for criticism from the Italian national press for not living up to high expectations since making the switch from BMW to Aprilia over the winter, particularly compared with team-mate Sylvain Guintoli.

However, armed with a bike that was dominant throughout the Sepang weekend, a significant change to the bike on Saturday night before the races gave him the confidence he needed on the machine to claim two timely wins.

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"In Malaysia from Saturday to Sunday we made a big change on bike set up and for me it was much better," he told when asked about his recent upturn in form.

"Before the bike was shaking on the straight and I was like a passenger but now I feel like I am the rider. So from Malaysia we didn't change a lot and here the bike was working good. I think we find our base for set up, now we have to find how to improve and close the gap to Kawasaki.

"I like to turn very tight," Melandri, who finished third in both races at Misano, added. "If I do the Kawasaki lines I don't have so much traction. I have to pick up the bike very soon. But now I feel like I'm riding well so the track layout was maybe better for them like Malaysia was better for Aprilia. Now we will see in Portim?o, it will be equal level. It's a track that I think suits my riding style. I think we can go there positive, thinking how we'll do our best and I hope we can fight with Kawasaki."

Misano's pair of podiums reinforced Melandri's fifth place in the standings and he now sits just 20 points behind Jonathan Rea in fourth, albeit 72 points stand between him and championship leader Sykes.