Italian rider Melandri made his surprise WorldSBK comeback at Jerez and showed impressive race pace
There were changes to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship grid ahead of the Championship’s return at the Pirelli Spanish Round, perhaps none more surprising than Marco Melandri (Barni Racing Team); the Italian making his comeback following retirement at the end of 2019.
The 37-year-old made up places in Race 1, having started 19th for Race 1 at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, he finished eighth before making up ten places in Race 2 to finish ninth from 19th on the grid. He gained one place in the Tissot Superpole Race, finishing 18th, but had to slow down during the 10-lap race following a bee sting.
Melandri said: “I am so happy because it was very fun to come back. It was not easy, even the weather was not helping. I really like the V4 and Barni Racing are a very good team. They have helped me a lot. It’s been like a test for us, we learnt a lot of things and I can’t wait to be in Portimao to see what we can make better.
“We have a lot of things to do. It was a difficult day today because in the Superpole Race, the bee punched me in the stomach, so I slowed down a lot in the middle of the race because I had a lot of pain. Even with the bad start with bad qualifying, it was not so bad. I really feel good on the bike, but I need time to adapt myself because it’s very different from what I am used to. For the team, they are learning my requests and my riding style. After nine months out, it was not easy but to go back next week is very good for me because my mind is fresh so we can keep working hard.”
Melandri’s impressive performances in Race 1 and Race 2, gaining a total of 21 places, means he has already moved into second place in the Hyundai N-Spired Rider Award with 21 points, three points behind Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) – Davies having also competed at the season-opening Australia Round. Melandri will be hoping to continue this form as World Superbike heads to Portimao straight from Jerez.
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