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Melandri: "SBK needs riders who try, like me"

Marco talks about his future and the championship: "I might end up without a ride, but Ducati and BMW have come knocking. I still want to race"

SBK: Melandri: "SBK needs riders who try, like me"

With Jonathan Rea already crowned champion and with two rounds of the 2018 championship still to run, SBK is looking to the future. As of now, next year's entry list is missing one key name, or rather that of Marco Melandri. The Italian has seen Bautista take his place on the factory Panigale and he's still looking for a ride, also because he doesn't want to think about retiring just yet.

Unfortunately, I still want to race, I want it too much  - he jokes - If I didn't, it would be easy and I'd stop. I think that if I can find a bike to suit my riding style, I can still be competitive. At Magny-Cours I was close to the podium fight for most of the race, but I couldn't get the bike to do as I wanted. This is why I appeared angry when I got off, I can't express my potential. I'd like to find a solution that allows me finish my career expressing just that”.

Might you be able to hinder Rea?
In races where I've had the right confidence and been close to him, I've not held back, at least I've tried. I think a championship needs riders who always try, with races that are less calculated than the MotoGP, and more instinctive, just as SBK has always been”.

Is this the secret to picking up a championship that is suffering in terms of spectators?
For those who come to watch, it's definitely a problem having one race on Saturday and the other on Sunday. I don't think it's ideal, but perhaps it is for TV, I wouldn't know about that. I think the key is to have hard-fought races, the crowd has to enjoy itself from start to finish, that's the secret. You can try to improve this situation with the regulation, but the main point is that the races need to be exciting, the rest arrives as a result. I don't think the promoter alone can chance the face of a championship ”.

Can the technical regulation?
“They need to understand how to level performance, we in Ducati have been penalised a lot more than the 4 cylinders with this year's regulation. Yamaha and Van der Mark, to cite one example, are growing a lot, unfortunately Aprilia is struggling and the same goes for Honda, due to Camier's injuries. I think those teams have been lacking and then with Johnny you're racing to be second at best, he's too far ahead”.

You are one of few who has beaten him though, losing you would be a blow for the championship…
I think Dorna knows this, I often talk to them and am sure they will try to give me a hand for the good of the championship. It's a difficult time for SBK and competitive riders are needed, in order to have some spectacular races. We also needs riders from different countries, with only Brits it risks becoming like a national series”.

Even more so now that Rea has dominated for 4 years…
Jonathan has an incredible riding ability, like he's not even trying. I think it is the combination of him and the Kawasaki that makes him so strong - he's perfect for that bike and the bike is perfect for him”.

You too would like a perfect bike. There was talk of a Yamaha ride, is that still a possibility?
Nothing's been done, we've not moved forward. We were never actually that close, talking about the pros and cons, but nothing concrete has come of it”.

Do you risk being without a ride?
unfortunately that's likely, SBK too has changed and only money counts, the rest counting for little”.

Is there a plan B at least?
Ducati contacted me to ask if I'd ride an external bike. A window has opened with BMW too, but I don't know how or who it would be with. Right now I have to wait”.

Which team might field this satellite Panigale?
Recently my words have been taken out of context so I don't want to say anything. l prefer to keep quiet”.

Have you had chance to test the Ducati V4?
Only the road version. I asked for a test with the bike to understand if it might suit my style but my request was seen as an intention to leave. I think that was one of the reasons I've been let go in the end. The current Panigale attuale, the twin, and the new one have different characteristics, the V4 having broader delivery, I think it could suit my riding style. But perhaps I'll never know”.

Translated by Heather Watson

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