During a live chat with Marco Melandri, his wife, Manuela Raffaetà, also answered our Riccardo Guglielmetti's and Marco Caregnato's questions, as well as the many questions that came from our viewers and readers, on Facebook and on YouTube.
Manuela, Marco retired at the end of last season. You've been in the motor world for many years now. What do you miss most about the paddock?
“I miss the people. I spent half my life in both the MotoGP and the SBK. Motorcycling is an incredible world, made up of people who work insanely, from the garage to hospitality. I've always noticed a great passion and big hearts. I have to say that the SBK is a more peaceful environment. There's more of a family situation with more children and more wives. Once, Rea went to get Marco on a scooter. These things don't happen much in the MotoGP."
You've been supporting Marco for many seasons. How does a rider change when he enters the circuit during a race weekend?
“Riders on the weekend are like women at that time of the month. They're touchy. You have to treat them in a certain way, talk to them gently and as little as possible. Marco was like that, but all the other riders' wives I know also confirmed it."
What was your relationship with fear? You always seemed very calm and smiling when on the starting grid next to Marco, but when the lights would go off, did you keep the same smile?
“I'm talking about it now because it's all over. If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I probably wouldn't have answered you, maybe for superstition. The truth is that you never get used to that fear, and it was a very complicated thing for me during Marco's career. There have been difficult times, since we lost our first child during the races. We wives and girlfriends are a bit like worker bees in the paddock because we know what the rider wants and when he wants it.”
And how was your relationship with the team?
"Fantastic. My trick was to always involve the team when Marco had a problem. A team is like a family, and that's something I miss. When something went wrong, I tried to make them smile."
Marco had many rivals during his career and many important relationships with other riders, but have you had any important friendship with the wives of your husband's rivals?
“I have to say that Marco ruined my friendships. I'm kidding. Laverty's wife once told me that, even if our husbands were to battle it out, we would still be friends. We were all in the same boat."
What does Marco ride best? A motorcycle, a bike, or a car?
“I'm probably biased, but I think Marco was one of the best in the world with a bike. It's useless to beat around the bush. When he felt good on a bike, nothing held him back. He was elegant and raced in a way that sometimes moved me. On who, in my opinion, is like Marco is Rea. When he arrived in the SBK, he often fell, and now that he's found the solution, no one messes with him. He's really grown."