Marco Melandri says he’s found a comfortable set-up with his Aruba.it Racing Ducati at Brno after a torrid Donington Park round last time out but still feels Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea has a clear pace advantage.

The Italian is the most successful World Superbike rider on the grid in terms of results at Brno with three career wins plus a second place when the Czech Republic track last hosted the series in 2011 and 2012.

Melandri, who is also a multiple 125cc and 250cc Grand Prix race winner at Brno, demonstrated his pace at the circuit by taking third place on the combined times as top Ducati rider only behind the factory Kawasaki duo of Rea and teammate Tom Sykes.

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Having struggled for pace at Donington Park, Melandri is confident his Ducati squad has found solutions at Brno which have made him “fairly optimistic” for a strong showing this weekend but warns Rea remains the rider to beat.

“Today really demanded our utmost focus as track conditions changed quite a lot between the morning and the afternoon, and the grip was much lower than during the tests here,” Melandri said. “We had to study and utilise different setups, but fortunately we managed to do a solid job and the team found a good compromise to make me feel quite comfortable on the bike.

“We can be fairly optimistic for the race, regardless of weather conditions. Rea seems to have a small edge at the moment, but I'm really determined to close the gap.”

Melandri will be eager to reignite his World Superbike campaign after slipping to fifth in the riders’ standings while he’s taken just two podium results since his dominant double victory at the 2018 opener at Phillip Island.

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