Fortuna Yamaha rider Marco Melandri will not have very far to travel to this weekend's Grand Prix, as the Donington circuit is situated really close to his UK home in Derby.

The Ravenna-born rider goes back there whenever he gets the chance in his busy racing and testing schedule, and relishes the chance to fully relax and not be called upon by his many contemporaries as he is whenever he returns to Italy.

His best friend in the UK is Motocross rider Jamie Dobb, and the two are virtually inseparable when Marco comes back to Derby - indeed the pair (together with Carlos Checa and Casey Stoner) will ride together at the Donington Motocross circuit next Wednesday.

"It's like my second home Grand Prix", said the diminutive Italian. "I have raced there five times, and last year I won the 250cc race there. I don't like the track too much though. It's strange because with a small bike like a 125cc it seems really fast but on the 250 it seems small. With the MotoGP four-stroke bike I think it will be even slower!

"The grip there isn't the same every day, perhaps because of the fuel from the overflying planes. It's really bumpy and there are three really small corners where it's easy to make a mistake.

"I would really like to do well in Donington, not just because it's my home and I will have lots of friends there but also because it's time now for me to progress to the next level with my racing," he explained. "It's been a very frustrating season for me so far because I have gone from winning a World Championship last year to having almost to learn from scratch again.

"But I'm sure that I have the capability, and I have full confidence in Yamaha and my team that before the end of the season we can get some good finishes in the top ten, and who knows, maybe a podium!"

Team director Davide Brivio also feels that his young prodigy is now at a stage to fight for a higher position.

"Having talked about not being able to find a 'good feeling' with his M1, Marco has felt differently at the past two races," said Brivio. "He is only twenty years old and because of his mature attitude and vast experience in the racing world, it's easy to forget how new he is to it all. Also he has two races less experience than his class competitors this season (after breaking his leg at Suzuka), so it was bound to take some time for him to reach this point.

"In Assen his qualifying performance showed that he has a natural aptitude for the four-stroke class and hopefully in Donington he will have the chance to fight in the top ten riders and also earn himself some more points. There is no reason why he shouldn't be able to do that," added Brivio.