The Superbikes have officially landed in Europe and riders are keen to show their stuff. Starting with Marco Melandri who is showing encouraging signs on board the GRT team's Yamaha, his podium in Australia his best result.
Before turning his attention to the track, he refers to something of a touchy subject, Alex Lowes having made comments about the Italian. “We haven't spoken in person– explains Marco - but he's got something to say about everyone, so I'm not interested, he spoke badly about Sandro too (Cortese)”.
One of the reasons for Lowes frustration seems to have to do with the technical direction to follow.
“I have nothing to say. I'm honestly not interested, each of us has our own bike and we do what we think best: the requests I made to Yamaha have been clear since November and it seems they're listening, both to me and the other riders. This means that they probably realise that I've understood this bike's main difficulty, but we'll find out further on when updates arrive”.
It appears that there's an intense fight for a factory ride next year, and you are among the candidates.
“Right now, I just want to follow my own path. i'm happy to offer my experience to help a new team to grow: we are smaller than a factory team but we have a lot of people keen to do well. Right now, I think we need a standard bike with different characteristics, considering the direction Ducati has taken, realistically we need more responsive changes to understand whether we're going in the right direction.”.
We're now at Aragon. Do you think you can fight for the podium?
“In Thailand, I had the speed to fight for third, but unfortunately problems along the straight limited me. I think we can be back fighting for the podium here, I don't know how far we'll be from Rea, but we'll be fast”.
Do you expect another runaway Ducati win?
“Yes, in terms of the win, nothing will change, they have too much of an advantage not only along the straight but also through the fast turns”.
Speaking of Ducati, do you think Davies' difficulties or Bautista's domination are more telling when it comes to the level of the V4?
“I don't think it's Alvaro who's fast, but rather Davies who is slow. it's not normal for Chaz to be slower than privateer riders, just as it's not normal that, with a bike that has 20km more, he's slower than last year on the fast tracks. I think the problem is him right now - seeing him on track, he's not even a distant relative of last year's Chaz, but I'm sure he'll get back to his usual levels”.
Back to your situation. Will the bike still be shaking so much here at Aragon?
“I'm fairly sure we won't. I know the reason for the problem and it's the same component that created a problem last year. It's not a bike issue unfortunately but an external component. Each year, I struggle to know exactly what's on the bike straight off, I find out as I go... We couldn't change the component in Thailand, but here I'm sure the problem will disappear”.