New to motogp.com?Register here

Tickets purchase
VideoPass purchase

Marco Melandri prepares for a tough pre-season

Marco Melandri prepares for a tough pre-season

Marco Melandri prepares for a tough pre-season

Italian rider Marco Melandri is bracing himself for a hard pre-season in the knowledge that he has still yet to fully recover from the shoulder injury he sustained during the winter while getting ready to participate in the Bologna Motorshow. On Friday of last week he got back on his factory Aprilia for the first time in four months. Now at the beginning of a season which sees the departures of Katoh and Harada to the MotoGP class, following last year's results, he is the obvious candidate to win the title.

'I'm not anywhere near being 100 percent yet because the shoulder still isn't that strong, but I can feel it getting better and I'm getting more confident. I hope that by Suzuka I'll be back on top form,' explained Melandri. 'The two days of rest I've had after the IRTA tests in Valencia have really helped. Here in Estoril I'm feeling a bit better and I know that with each day that passes I'm getting closer to full fitness.'

The Aprilia rider admits that last weekend's tests were not easy from a physical point of view. 'It was my first time back on a bike since that serious injury and just as I was beginning to get a feel for it again I began to tire a little. It's not easy to ride after 4 months out and I realise that I'll be able to get to a certain level of performance quite quickly. To take the final step of getting back to being the Melandri of last year will be difficult, bearing in mind the current physical problems I have. Anyway, I hope by the tests in Catalunya on March 7th and 8th I'll be a lot better.'

Melandri was really impressed by the performance of Fonsi Nieto in Valencia, 'I've seen how fast Fonsi is going. Last year he developed a lot as rider and this year he will be very dangerous. Rolfo seemed to have a few problems, but along with Locatelli he will be another title rival I have to beat. I think the championship will be very close though.'

The 19 year-old favourite finished third last term, although he couldn't really challenge Katoh and Harada on a regular basis. Despite a few falls and their inevitable consequences, he was fairly consistent and achieved 4 third placed finishes, 4 second places and also his first victory in the 250cc class. This season, without the two dominant Japanese riders, his is the name being put forward as the number one title contender. 'My aim is to be World Champion. At the moment, Fonsi is the fastest, but I hope to be fighting to win it and I'm convinced that I can do it.'

Tags:
250cc, 2001, Marco Melandri

Other updates you may be interested in ›