Marco Melandri talks WorldSBK: "I hope it’ll be a battle to the last race!"

Thursday, 6 June 2024 14:17 GMT

The former WorldSBK runner-up offered his thoughts on Axel Bassani, the Championship and more whilst being present at the Adriatic track. 

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is well and truly underway, and anticipation continues to build following the conclusion of testing at Misano, Italy. One man who was around to offer his expert view on all things WorldSBK was none other than former MotoGP™ rider, and previous WorldSBK runner-up, Marco Melandri, who was present at the track to provide mentoring and support for Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK’s Axel Bassani. 

“I TRY TO DISCOVER THE WORLD… THAT’S ENOUGH FOR ME”: Melandri's life outside of racing

The first topic that came up with Marco was life outside of racing. For a person who remains so intricately connected to the paddock, Melandri appears to enjoy life outside of motorsport. Discussing life recently, he said: “I’m just enjoying life. I’m also trying to keep time for myself. I still follow WorldSBK and MotoGP. I also work with a motorcycle company. From when I was a kid, I had a passion to be a DJ, so now I’ve started, more and more, to work as one. I do some mountain bike races with E-bikes, so I try to discover the world – new places, new people. That’s enough for me.”


Discussing the reason for his presence on the Adriatic Coast, attention soon shifted to KRT rider Axel Bassani, especially given Melandri’s new-found mentor role for the young Italian rider. Discussing how he is finding his role in advising the Italian, Melandri said: “Yes, it’s going well, actually. I like to help him and be with him. I like the technical details of the bike, so I try to see him on track, and to help him and help him to process the data. I try to help give the technicians and Axel an easier time. It’s not easy, it’s step-by-step. But every day we will strive to get better.” The former #33 rider then elaborated on Bassani’s adaptation to the Japanese machinery and had this to say: “For sure, coming from a Ducati is not easy. But I think he’s very motivated. He’s going hard, but there’s been a few times where he’s not had a lot of luck. But when you look at the data, you see that in some corners he is faster than Alex. I think the potential is there, but he needs time, because this is his first time working with a Factory team.” Furthermore, Marco discussed his expectations for the #47 rider going forward and was very positive in his appraisal of Axel: “You actually never know. We’re expecting to improve race-by-race. For me, fighting for the top five is not so far.”

“I HOPE IT WILL BE A BATTLE TO THE LAST RACE”: Melandri expects epic end to Championship

Next, Marco Melandri gave his opinion on the 2024 WorldSBK title race, as well as the key players involved. Speaking about the current state of play, Melandri said this: “Yes, it’s very good actually – a lot of fun. I think Toprak can really mix it up; I really like his style of racing. But Alvaro looks like he has found the balance. It looks like the battle for the Championship will be between those two. Bulega looks very consistent. He needs more experience, for sure, to be ready to fight for a Championship. But the spirit he already has…”

Melandri gave his opinion about six-time champion Jonathan Rea, as well as his early struggles onboard the Yamaha R1: “You can see that he is not 100% comfortable on the bike. But for sure, he is so mentally strong; he will never give up. I think he will be ready to fight for podiums soon; I already saw him become much better by the end.” Marco also spoke about fellow Italian, and Team GoEleven rider, Andrea Iannone and had this to say: “He had an amazing start to the season. I expected to see him struggle a little fighting the other guys. I think he’s very strong, so he’s able to fight body-to-body with the other riders. He doesn’t make many mistakes, so I think he’s making very smart progress.”

SURPRISE OF THE SEASON; FINAL DAY DRAMA? Melandri predicts dream end to season

Lastly, Marco was asked who, in his opinion, has been the surprise package of the season so far. His response was as follows: “For sure, Bulega. Nobody expected him to get a pole position and win in Phillip Island. I was always sure that Toprak could be fast on the BMW”. And as for his perfect end to the 2024 WorldSBK season, Melandri outlined this scenario: “It’s not so easy. I hope it will be a battle to the last race. I think it will be between Toprak and Alvaro.”

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