When Pirelli chiefs brought a new and wider front tyre development option to Misano’s WorldSBK round, they did not know that the weather would wipe out the all-important Friday FP3 session, leaving some riders unsure of their set-up on the new rubber.
None more so than Marco Melandri, who was only seventh in race one. He had the added complication of gremlins in the free session before race one.
“I think we have to forget the first race,” said Melandri. “We missed FP1 for rain, and FP4 we missed the whole of the session for a technical problem. I started race one with a completely blind set-up for a new bigger front tyre. The bike was so difficult to ride for me.”
Things got better on Sunday, much better and covered in bronze to boot, with some hard won race data about the new tyres in his machine settings. “Then, with the information after race one, I think the bike this morning was already better, even if the lap time was not so good.
“But I was trying to think about hot conditions, because in the cool of the morning it is always faster on track. So I knew when the feeling was not so bad it could be good also for race two.”
His podium impressed even hard working race winner Rea, who was amazed how deep Melandri could go in on the brakes to stay with the world champion.
Melandri rode out his small skin to score a podium in race two, especially after such a tough start and all the pressure of competing at home.
His braking technique was also to do with necessity for Melandri, given the different way each bike works and the biggest WorldSBK set-up bugbear of all – gearing.
“I think also for the gearbox, because in many corner we have a too short gear so we cannot have the same corner speed as them,” he added. “So we need to brake harder and come back big. Especially in T8. I was faster going into the turns and they were faster going out. I was sliding and moving more – also in corner nine. For me it was difficult.”
Having caught up the front two in race two, and finishing only 0.595 seconds from Rea, never mind second placed van der Mark, Melandri was almost disappointed to be third.
“Arriving third, close to the first, maybe I could get something more,” said the optimist, before the realist concluded, “If, if, if - but it is OK, this was the best result I could get today.”