Steve English reviews the Italian resurge in WorldSBK
Italy has finally claimed its 100th WorldSBK victory as Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed a magnificent victory at Misano. Having endured a near three year wait between victories Italy - and Melandri - are finally back on the top step of the rostrum.
It was a weekend of contrasting fortunes for the Ducati team, with Melandri nursing a victory hangover while Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will have to be nursed back to full fitness. The Welsh star crashed in Saturday's opening race and suffered a fractured L3 vertebrae after being hit by a trailing Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) on the final lap; as the Northern Irishman had nowhere to go to take avoiding action. But Davies now faces a race against time to be ready for the next round of the championship at Laguna Seca.
The highs and lows of racing saw Ducati crushed on Saturday, and celebrate on Sunday. Melandri's win, hot on the heels of Andrea Dovizioso winning the Italian Grand Prix in MotoGP, was the 20th of his WorldSBK career and one that saw him show once again that he is one of the world's best racers.
Having endured a barren spell in the wilderness of a stint with Aprilia in MotoGP, and getting back to speed in WorldSBK this year, the relief and joy was clear to see in Parc Ferme. Clutching an Italian tricolore throughout his post-race interviews was a moment of true patriotism; and an Italian winning on an Italian bike in front of an Italian crowd; was a truly historic moment.
The win also removed the monkey from Ducati's back, as it was the first time a rider other than Davies has won a race on a Ducati since Sylvain Guintoli in 2012. Number 33 claimed the 333th victory for Ducati in WorldSBK, and now the question will be to see if Melandri can use this as a springboard to further success.