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Melandri expects another tough weekend

Melandri expects another tough weekend

One of the riders yet to set the 2008 MotoGP World Championship alight, Marco Melandri arrives at Estoril for the third Grand Prix of his debut season with Ducati Marlboro still in search of his first top ten finish.

One of the riders yet to set the 2008 MotoGP World Championship alight, Marco Melandri arrives at Estoril for the third Grand Prix of his debut season with Ducati Marlboro still in search of his first top ten finish.

The 25 year-old Italian has yet to find a fully comfortable feeling with the awesome Desmosedici GP8, registering less than spectacular lap times in preseason and during free practice and qualifying at the opening two rounds of the year. The fact that he has managed to make up significant ground during the Qatar and Jerez contests to record 11th and 12th place finishes respectively is testament to his racing ability, but Melandri will be expecting more of himself on a World Championship winning package.

The 2002 250cc World title winner and 2005 MotoGP runner-up is a proven premier class race winner, but things have not quite fallen into place for him with his new team thus far.

Even on a positive test day after the Jerez race, when he and his mechanics made improvements to his Bridgestone-shod Ducati package, Melandri suffered a crash which ripped a fingertip off one of his gloves, damaging the finger below.

Nonetheless, he is a tough competitor, as his Laguna Seca podium last year secured despite a broken ankle proved, and he has a decent record at Estoril having recorded two top five finishes and two additional top tens at the Portuguese circuit in his five MotoGP visits.

With fellow Ducati new boys Sylvain Guintoli and Toni Elias also struggling to find form thus far with the satellite Alice Team outfit, Melandri is not alone in failing, as yet, to harness the true potential of the Desmosedici GP8, so the initial free practice sessions at the bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal on Friday should provide an indication as to whether any progress is being made.

The venue for round three is notorious for its lack of grip, high winds and changeable weather conditions and Melandri is not anticipating an easy ride. `Estoril is probably another track that we won´t be best friends with but it´s pointless trying to predict,´ insists Melandri. `We´ll have to wait and see how we get on when we arrive. It´s a strange track with some slow corners and a really long and fast main straight but you couldn´t say it´s complete because there aren´t really any technical sections.´

`It will be important to be good on the brakes and find a compromise in the setting. I hope we can start out better in practice and then improve throughout - something I´ve not managed to do yet. The finger I hurt in Jerez is practically recovered - I don´t think I´ll even need a bandage.´

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, bwin.com GRANDE PREMIO DE PORTUGAL, Marco Melandri, Ducati Marlboro Team

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