Marco Melandri has revealed the 2019 World Superbike Championship season will be his last in international motorsport after announcing his retirement.

With multiple successes at the highest levels of both MotoGP and the WorldSBK, as well as his title-winning success in the 250GP class, Melandri has established himself as one of Italy’s most successful motorcycle racers.

Currently racing in WorldSBK with the privateer GRT Yamaha team, Melandri – who has notched up three podiums this season – says it is important for him to exit the sport whilst he is still competitive.

"The decision to retire was a very difficult one for me to make," he said in a statement. "I'd been thinking about it for some time and, before the Imola race, I finally decided to call it a day at the end of the 2019 season.

“I'm still competitive and I think it's better to stop at this point, while I still enjoy racing, rather than waiting until the enjoyment and the results are more difficult to achieve.

"Since making the decision I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders and now that everyone knows this is my final year, I'm even more motivated to push for good results in the final few races.

“In part it's for me, as I'd like to go out on a high, but it's also to repay the faith that both Yamaha and the GRT Yamaha team have shown in me. It's been a difficult season, but they have worked so hard to help me realise my potential.

"They never gave up on me and I hope that my experience has helped the team adapt to racing in WorldSBK just that little bit quicker. I'm looking forward to seeing out my final season with them and I intend to give it my all, treating every lap like a qualifying lap and pushing to improve myself and bring the team the results they deserve.

“Then it will be time to move on and do something different with my life. For me it's been a fantastic journey; thank you to everyone I met along the way."

Tipped for glory from an early age as he ascended the 125 and 250GP ranks, Melandri was crowned world champion in the latter series in 2002 with a dominant effort that yielded nine wins in 16 races and earned him a move into the MotoGP class.

Two solid but sobering seasons at Yamaha marked his early foray into MotoGP but it was his switch to Honda machinery with the Gresini-run Movistar satellite team that assured his legend after finishing runner-up to Valentino Rossi with a series of podium results, including his first MotoGP wins in Turkey and Valencia.

After two seasons and three more victories with Honda Melandri was snapped up by the factory Ducati team for 2008 but it proved to be a disastrous misstep as he struggled to adapt to the bike’s distinct demands, a toil that would go on to hamper the likes of Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow in the ensuing years.

Parting ways just one year into the two-year contract, Melandri’s fortunes took another downward turn after Kawasaki opted to withdraw from MotoGP after it has signed the Italian. The project lived on with Melandri as Hayate, his dogged performances on the under-developed, not privately funded bike helping back to Honda for 2010 before he jumped ship to WorldSBK for 2011.

Returning to Yamaha, Melandri wasted no time in finding his feet in WorldSBK, finding runner-up in 2011 before a move to BMW saw him finish third in 2012 but closer to the title than any other year in terms of points.

A dismal half-season back in MotoGP with Aprilia Racing aside, Melandri made WorldSBK his home in the latter years and proved a winner on each bike.- Yamaha, BMW, Aprilia, Ducati – he jumped on, if not a champion.

Indeed, in six seasons so of WorldSBK, Melandri hasn’t once finished lower than fifth overall, while his tally of 22 wins exceeds that of 2012 champion Max Biaggi, making him Italy’s most successful WorldSBK race winner to date.

With the announcement coming ahead of the Laguna Seca WorldSBK event in the USA, as well as the summer break immediately following, Melandri has only five rounds and 15 races left to end impressive career on a sparkling note.

Career Statistics:

125GP

Active Seasons: 1998 - 1999

Wins: 7

Best overall: Runner-up, 1999

 

250GP

Active Seasons: 2000 - 2002

Wins: 10

Best overall: Champion, 2002

 

MotoGP

Active Seasons: 2003 - 2010 (2015)

Wins: 5

Best overall: Runner-up, 2005

 

WorldSBK

Active Seasons: 2011 - 2014, 2017 - 2019

Wins: 22

Best overall: Runner-up, 2011

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