Marco Melandri's career is closely linked to Fausto Gresini's. It was on his team that Macho became one of the big names in MotoGP, and it was with him that he also experienced his unfortunate return to the premier class in 2015. "There would be so many anecdotes to tell, both good and bad," said Fausto when hearing the news of Marco's retirement. So let's start.
Are you surprised by his farewell?
"Yes and no.I saw him suffer a bit in recent years, and he was never really happy. When you pass those moments, some things change in your life. You start getting tired and, sooner or later, you have to make certain decisions. Having said that, I'm sorry because Marco is great, both as a rider and as a person."
With you, he had a comeback in the MotoGP...
"That's how it went. We won a lot of races, and we were second in the World Championship. Then we always remained on good terms. He gave so much to my team, and his best years in the MotoGP were with us."
How did you meet him?
"I started following him when he was racing in the 125 with Honda, and his manager was Loris Reggiani, then I had him as a rival in the 250. He made his debut in the MotoGP on the Yamaha of the Tech3 team. They weren't easy years for him, so he came to us along with Sete Gibernau."
What are your best memories?
"When we won for two consecutive years in Turkey. He was really strong on that track. Then the victory at Phillip Island. But there have also been difficult moments, like when Valentino made him fall Japan in 2005, and Marco injured his foot with a pedal. At that moment, we lost important points for the championship, but we continued to fight until the end."
Did Marco get less than he deserved?
"Absolutely. A rider like him would have deserved more than just one title because he was thrilling on the track. He could have won at least a couple in the SBK, but he lost the opportunity at certain moments."
Who is Marco Melandri?
"A person I care for very much and a very honest, straightforward guy who always says what he thinks. Sometimes this trait, being too sincere, played against him."
Sometimes he also lacked a bit of luck.
"He rode for 20 years, but he actually sometimes found himself in the right place at the wrong time. I'm thinking about when he switched to Kawasaki in the MotoGP, then he decided to officially retire from the World Championship, as he later did in the SBK with BMW.”
Another bad chapter was his return to the MotoGP with Aprilia in 2015.
"That was one of the biggest mistakes made by all of us. Marco had a contract with Aprilia. He wanted to continue in the SBK, but they convinced him to race in the MotoGP, and it was a disaster. Melandri has always had one characteristic: if he doesn't believe in a project, it doesn't work. He left at mid-season, then took a sabbatical year. Alberto Vergani was really good at putting him on the Ducati in the SBK. Marco owes a lot to his manager."
Now he has the last few races ahead of him. What happens when a rider says enough is enough?
"I made a decision after a certain year, when my father and Senna died, and my first child was born. I was 33 years old. I felt strong, but I didn't have the bike I deserved. I was on a team in the B series. All this made me say enough is enough because I was ambitious and, as I always said, I preferred to be a young manager than an old rider. I didn't want to end up like one of those who feels sorry for themselves because they don't accept to want to quit."
What advice do you think you'd give Marco for his second life?
After retiring, the hardest thing is answering this question: what do I do now? I faced this dilemma, and it was not easy. Today, however, there are many more possibilities than in my time. I'm sure that Marco will be able to choose the best.”