The Melandri who takes to the starting blocks ahead of this season's SBK championship has a year of experience with the Ducati under his belt. While, on the one hand, the Italian is sure he'll be able to express his potential, on the other hand, he is worried about the regulation changes. And the Aruba rider focused on this during the team presentation.
“We feel this reduction in revs in every part of the bike – he begins – we're forced to use longer final ratios, it's as if the Panigale is in too high a gear on entry and too low on exit. So we're very limited, in that we're forced to change several times, like four times per lap at the two tracks we've tested at recently.”
Melandri then goes into more detail.
“When you're at a 50° lean angle, you need to only think about that, rather than corner exit. It's all very difficult. Before, with the twin, we had a lot of torque at low revs, but a lack of power. Now it's the opposite, we're missing 2000 revs practically”.
nevertheless, at the Jerez test, Marco proved to be as fast as Rea.
“In terms of race pace, I was able to match him though that's a favourable track for us. At Portimao I had all the same dififculties we had last year in the race, plus those resulting from the new regulation”.
From what we've seen in testing, Melandri appears to have a little more than Davies, who is still recovering from injury. Could #33 be the anti Rea?
“I will follow my own path, regardless of Chaz's condition. I definitely feel more competitive than last year, I have more experience and am stronger, physically and mentally. In 2017 I was worried a one on one situation, now I'm more prepared”.
Melandri has revealed that he will have a different race approach.
“Last year i was more docile when I found myself in a group. Now I can handle the situation better and try to be more aggressive. We'll see what we can do”.
The rider awaits updates from Borgo Panigale at the Australia test.
“We need to make a big step forward, though the issues regarding gear changes can't really be solves. I would like it to be easier through the centre of the turn though, so we'll work on the engine, and there will be some new chassis elements too”.
#33 has just one goal at Phillip Island: to go for gold.
“We head there with this in mind, rather than limiting the damage. Anyone can win at that track”.
Camier may also be a contender, having stood out in testing with the Honda.
“Leon was very strong, but testing is about one lap, while the race is different. We weren't interested in performance, wanting instead to have all the information needed to be fast at Phillip Island. I still believe that what we saw during the 2017 races will be the same this year, though certain riders will move closer”.
Melandri's contract with Aruba is up for renewal at the end of the season..
“It's important for me to start well and do well. In the past, I was missing stability and I'd like to work on a new proect. Right now, I prefer to focus solely on the present”.