The season has yet to start and a knee injury has already impacted on Marco Melandri's plans. The Ravenna rider is working hard to recover and be in shape for round one at Phillip Island. There's hope in his eyes, though the road is still long.
A simple question - how are you?
“I'm still suffering a little when standing, but I'm definitely better”.
Will you be fit for Australia?
“From early January I'll focus on my athletic preparation, without worrying about rehabilitation. I hope to be in shape within the next ten days”.
Are you concentrating mainly on race pace?
“I think I'm more competitive in terms of race pace than the flying lap, in terms of a 5-6 lap run. As for an entire race, I don't know yet. In the next tests, I'll have to complete a long run, albeit in less than ideal conditions, to understand where we need to work”.
You've said that you'll be looking to learn from Davies when it comes to hard braking. Anything else?
“I think that braking and corner entry are Chaz's strong points. We have different characteristics. I'm not bad through the turns and on exit. But I don't want to try too hard to be like him in the hard braking only to lose in other areas. So I need to find the right balance”.
Is this your last big chance in Superbike?
“It's always a last chance, but this is a real chance. After a period of time, I've finally found a bike and a team that I would have chosen. Unfortunately recent years were a little too complicated”.
Davies, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Melandri - who would you bet on in 2017?
“Only time will tell.. We'll see.”
The Superbikes are in crisis in terms of visibility. Will Melandri remedy this?
“I can't say, the championship will be interesting because there are many competitive teams and riders”.
Did you ask Santa for a gift?
“You shouldn't reveal your wishes”.
Have you ever considered retiring?
“No, I've always believed that I'm still a rider. I knew there would be difficulties, I was under no illusions. I knew about Ducati, I waited to sign”.
How did you spend 2016?
It's been a complex year. While I wasn't thinking about racing, I started work, opening an online store with my sister. We wanted to create a new way of looking at bikes”
What do you think about the new regulation?
“I would have fully reversed the top nine finishers from Race 1. By only moving the podium finishers there's a risk that the race will be even more boring, because if the fourth-placed rider has the pace of the first he can run away with it. Also the rush to play catch up may lead to accidents”.
What didn't work with Aprilia?
“We didn't agree on many things. The secret is believing in what you have. When something is forced on you and you don't believe in it, it's over before it begins”.