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Century man Melandri opens auction

Century man Melandri opens auction

Century man Melandri opens auction

Century man Melandri opens auction Marco Melandri opened up an internet auction this weekend, selling off his ‘Spiderman' livery worn at the recent Grande Premio Marlboro de Portugal to raise funds for the ‘Emergency' charity. The money generated by the sale of the equipment will be used to support the Panshir Medical Centre in the village of Anabah in Afghanistan.

"When Columbia asked me to wear Spiderman livery again, as I did in 2002, I was happy to do it but on condition that I could have one of the three full "kits" in order to put them on auction, explained Melandri at the opening of the auction at Odeon cinema in Milan.

"Now I hope that the auction will go better than my race in Portugal… when I watch the news on TV, I spend most of the time worrying about what is going on worldwide, and so I decided to help somehow with Emergency, which cares about world events much better than I could do.

"When things are better in Afghanistan, I'd like to go there and see what has been done with the money raised. All the pieces in auction are original and I used them during the Portuguese GP weekend. If I could buy something, I'd go for the helmet, because for all the riders it is very important as it protects your head. You can recover from broken bones, but not for broken head, so the helmet is very precious."

Just one week before the start of the auction Melandri made history as the youngest ever rider to compete in 100 Grand Prix races at Motegi. It is the latest milestone in a record-breaking career for the Italian, who became the youngest rider ever to compete in a GP at Brno on his debut in 1997, just 24 days after his 15th birthday.

In 1998 Melandri entered the 125cc World Championship as a full-time rider with the Benetton Matteoni Racing Honda team and, at 15 years and 324 days, became the youngest ever winner of a Grand Prix in the Dutch TT at Assen, a record that still stands. The youngster took a second victory that year and finished on the podium no fewer than eight times to finish third in the championship.

Despite missing the first two races of the following season through injury, Melandri enjoyed a spectacular year with the Playlife Racing Team – Liegeois Honda in 1999, taking nine podium finishes including five victories to finish second to Emilio Alzamora in the championship and missing out on the title by just one point.

Melandri moved up to the 250cc class in 2000 with Aprilia and became the youngest ever rider to finish on the quarter-litre podium in the 250cc class with third place in Portugal. He also became the youngest rider in the class to take a pole position, at Rio, and ended the year fifth in the championship with four podiums in total.

In 2001 Melandri took his first 250cc victory, beating Daijiro Kato and Tetsuya Harada in a stunning race at the Sachsenring and scoring eight further podiums to clinch third in the championship behind the Japanese pair.

The following season would see the youngster crowned World Champion at last – you guessed it, the youngest ever rider to do so in the 250cc class. Riding the MS Aprilia, Melandri took twelve podium finishes, including nine victories, and lifted the title with a breathtaking win over Fonsi Nieto at Phillip Island.

Melandri made the step up to the MotoGP class in 2003 but suffered an injury-plagued rookie season and could only manage 15th overall riding the Fortuna Yamaha, with a best result of fifth place at Motegi.

However, his first premier-class podium would come after just five rounds of the 2004 season, clinching third at Catalunya before repeating the feat at Assen two weeks later.

To relive some of the best moments of Melandri's 100 Grand Prix appearances, click the video link at the top of the page.

MotoGP, 2004, CAMEL GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN, Marco Melandri

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