It was supposed to be a weekend of redemption for Marco Melandri in Aragon but, at least for the moment, the Motorland is far from being that promised land that the rider from Ravenna was longing to reach with his Yamaha R1 in 2019.
On the track just outside Alcaniz, Melandri ended his Friday outside the top ten with an 11th time, far from the top positions. Those positions that the Yamaha rider was confident he could grab on the first day in the Old Continent for the series derivatives. Instead, the problems with the R1 set-up remain, and the horizon (read weekend of races) does not appear to be the clearest.
"One of the most difficult days so far," said a discouraged Melandri. "I was expecting good feelings on a track that gave me good results in the past but, instead, it was one of the most negative days."
The problems related to the set-up of his Yamaha still remain: "When entering, I have difficulties," he explained. "I can't ride through the corners when I brake. Then, when I open the throttle, we're penalized. Tomorrow, we're practicing at 9, and it'll be very cold, and maybe even wet."
Not the best of conditions to try to remedy the situation: "We'll see, but we'll try to do better, anyway, by trying a new set-up. Unlike other times, however, we are far behind, and it won't be easy to recover. We have to risk it. We have nothing to lose."
The work will focus on balancing the bike: "We'll try to stabilize the braking action by making the bike more stable and improve it in corners. I have to slow down more than I would like to because I can't take on the potholes, and braking when cornering is 'deadly' for me," he added. "And what I would like to try on the bike, unfortunately, cannot be done."
Some technical innovation is needed: "We're waiting for them at Yamaha, and we should have something for Imola. My needs were clear from the beginning: a different weight distribution to be more comfortable on the bike, and more horsepower to race with the ones at the top. A bike with both wheels on the ground, would be enough, but we'd need a test to try out the various things, calmly."
Given the assumtions, tomorrow will be all uphill for Melandri: "It will be difficult. We need to be able to take advantage of the qualifying round. I hope in the first three rows and to have a good start. You also need a stroke of luck. Even a small change can give you more confidence to make a big difference in terms of time."
Marco then concludes, launching a small message of hope for the race, also in relation to his pace: "With new tires, the bike gets much worse. I have more problems there. However, I think I have a better pace in the race than what I saw in the test."