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Marco Melandri looking ahead to his home GP while sampling some Motocross

Marco Melandri looking ahead to his home GP while sampling some Motocross

Marco Melandri looking ahead to his home GP while sampling some Motocross

The 15,800 fans at the Montevarchi racetrack last Sunday for the Motocross Grand Prix of Italy included a spectator that surely 15,799 of those present would easily have recognised. MotoGP rider and reigning 250cc World Champion Marco Melandri had ventured to the circuit a mere half an hour's drive south of Florence on Saturday evening to watch the world's best off-road racers in action and prepared himself for the most important road race GP of his season at Mugello this weekend by taking inspiration from those doing the business on the dirt.

The 20 year old hung out with good friend and former 125cc MX World Champion Jamie Dobb in sweltering conditions on Sunday and will soon be donning a helmet himself in the stuffy heat as the Italian GP kicks off in three days time.

´I think it will be the most difficult race for me so far this year,´ he admitted, ´because all the Italian riders will be wanting to make a good race in front of the public. My condition is getting better every day so that won´t hold me back. I want to finish a race in a good position and I will try for this in Mugello. It is my dream to get a podium finish in Mugello on the M1 but it´s very difficult to turn that to reality because this year so many riders are good, every race is different with different people fighting for the victory´.

´When I rode in the 125cc class I had my first ever podium in Mugello in ´98 - I came second. I also rode my first ever race in my life on a 125 in Mugello, and then won the 250cc race there last year. It´s a very difficult circuit because it has every kind of corner; slow, fast, and chicane, as well as a very fast straight. But I love this track! We tested here a few weeks ago and I took things slowly because of my physical condition.´ The test he refers to was the team's recent private two day sessions held on May 14-15 which should give the squad a small advantage in terms of sorting out their set-up for Sunday.

Concerning his visit to the motocross on Sunday he said: ´I live in England now close to Jamie and his family and I stayed with him in the camper on Saturday. I love the motocross and the physical demands of the sport. I have not been able to train at all because of the injury but when I am fit I look forward to spending some time riding off-road.´

MotoGP, 2003, Marco Melandri

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