Marco Melandri believes the rider who manages his tyres the best will emerge victorious in this weekend’s races at Phillip Island. The Ducati rider was sixth fastest on Friday and showed impressive pace in testing earlier in the week, although the weather looks set to turn on Saturday.
The Italian expects many riders to fight at the front of the race but with tyre wear likely to play a key role, Marco feels his ability to preserve the rubber will stand him in good stead.
“Today was positive, despite the erratic weather. I like this track a lot, and it suits our bike. I feel in great shape and, together with the team, we worked with more ease, given the year of experience under our belts. The Panigale R has improved since the tests. Tomorrow, it’ll be crucial to ride a fast lap in Superpole and then find a pace that allows us to manage the tyres better than the others. Many riders can be fast, but only a few will be competitive towards the end, once the tyres drop.”
Team-mate Chaz Davies was ninth quickest, ensuring he will join Melandri in SP2, and the Welshman is much happier with his physical condition after struggling with injury throughout the winter.
“Overall, it’s been a positive day. The final lap times probably don’t show the full picture here, and even though ninth position isn’t exciting on paper, I feel happier than after the tests. We stepped forward a little bit despite the fact that we still have room for improvement. FP3 wasn’t too smooth, we had a couple of issues that kept us in the garage for a while, but we’re going in the right direction. Also, physically we seemed to have turned a corner. We’re probably better off in a race situation than what we are on the time sheets.”