GRT Yamaha’s Marco Melandri has been chivvying Yamaha for some parts to let him fit his Yamaha R1 better, and also stop his massive speed wobbles. A pre-Jerez test at Misano in Italy was the key to allow Melandri to arrive in Spain like the rider of old.
He was third in Superpole, third in race one, third in the Supersport race until his luck (or judgement) ran out and he took out Chaz Davies with an ill-judged move into turn one and the subsequent penalty of a six-place grid drop cast a shadow over his achievements - especially when he said the Ducati man should have moved aside. Other than that it was back to good times for Melandri.
“Qualifying was a big surprise even for me,” said Melandri. “The feeling of the bike was better but for the first time I got a big improvement with the qualifying tyre. It gave me a good feeling.”
Melandri was first classified fourth in race one, then Rea’s demotion for his contact with Lowes saw him third – not something he knew when he said, “I did expect more from the first race, to be closer to the (original) podium. But ht first few laps was struggling a little bit with the brake, sometimes we had overheating, or something like that, so it was not a consistent system.
“There were sometimes very long strokes on the brake, sometimes very short, so it was difficult. Then I got arm pump because I was riding ‘stiff’. I never knew what was gong on with the brakes. Once they felt better, I started to improve my lap time but a few times I almost crashed because I always struggled a lot with the front. The Toprak caught me again and he was battling with me. Good fun but I expected to be a bit faster.”
I think for the first time we have feeling from the bike and we can see the data, and we can understand what we need to improve a little bit. I can feel every time we change something on the bike. I think we learned a lot and we need a small step to be a bit faster.”
Given that all the Yamaha riders had strong weekends for pace, even the luckless Lowes, Melandri was quizzed on whether the pace of Michael van der Mark was the best any Yamaha rider can achieve, Melandri said, “I think Michael was the one riding the bike better. His speed during the race was very fast. Only Alvaro was faster than him; a different race. But VDM is doing very good. I dunno but I feel I need help to improve, so to be faster than them I do not know if it is possible with this bike. But, to go like them, for sure it is possible.”
The changes to Melandri’s bike were in the chassis side, specifically how he fits on it.
“The biggest thing was the smaller fuel tank so I could change my riding position. Now I can move around more on the bike, I can feel more the tyres, and after that it is a circle. When you move one thing all the other things also go in different ways. So we are like starting from zero again. I like this track for sure, but also many other ones. Aragon, which was very bad for me, Misano where I was not so fast. But when you are fast you like every track!”