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SBK, Surprise in Barcelona: Melandri in Kawasaki garage with Bassani

Marco was present at the tests alongside Axel in the unprecedented role as coach: "I watch him on the track and help him communicate his feelings in the garage. I won't be at Assen. I'll be coming to some races to help, but I don't have a plan."

SBK: Surprise in Barcelona: Melandri in Kawasaki garage with Bassani

There was a new entry in the Kawasaki garage that didn't go unnoticed during the Barcelona SBK tests. We're referring to Marco Melandri alongside Axel Bassani. The two riders share the same manager, Alberto Vergani. According to what was reported by our colleagues at Speedweek, Axel asked Marco to help him during the season, already in the winter. The tests at Montmeló were the first occasion for them to share the garage, but Melandri won't be permanently present.

"I try to help Axel in all matters,Melandri explained. "I watch him ride on the track, but also how he works with the team. He's young, and switching  from a private team to a factory team is an important step. Axel asked me in the winter if I could work with him, but I didn't want to travel anymore. He called me again after Phillip Island, and the tests here was a good opportunity to try. Things are more relaxed during the tests, so I had time to get to know him."

Marco also has a very lengthy experience in the SBK and has worked with Marcel Duinker, Bassani's crew chief at Kawasaki, in the past.
"I already knew some of the guys on the team. His crew chief, Marcel Duinker, worked with me when I was racing for Kawasaki in the MotoGP, as did Danilo, the electronics engineer. I've seen how the communication works in the pits. I really like the technical aspect of the sport, so it was a good job for me. I always watched the data carefully. It's difficult for young riders because they're overwhelmed with information. They need help to understand what they can get out of the data. The rider and the electronics engineer need to know each other well. Axel has to give his comments in a certain way to make life easier for the electronics engineers. This is especially true between one session and the next during a race weekend, because they don't have much time."

Melandri's experience could be a big help to Axel.
"The job of a rider today is very complicated. Riding is only one part of it. Once the relationships within a team are established, everything becomes easier. That's why riders always want to take some people they know well with them when they change teams. The human side is very important. Riders say the same things in different ways. I tried to translate Axel's comments for Marcel. When Axel describes what he feels on the bike, I can imagine it. And then I explain it to Marcel in words that are different than Axel's. I know Marcel a bit. When he understands what I want to tell him, I can see it in his eyes."

For now, Melandri rules out his participation in the entire championship, but the door still seems open.
"There's no chance I'll be in Assen. It might snow there. I might be in the pits for a few races. I don't have a plan. I love this category, but I don't want to travel anymore. I'm tired after twenty-two years."


Translated by Leila Myftija

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