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Marco Melandri profile

By Dan Moakes
February 22 2006

Marco Melandri
nationality · Italian
born · 7 August 1982
grand prix début · 1997

Seen in the past as immature, the “Macio” tag has been dropped as Marco Melandri has come of age. He had already gone down as the youngest Grand Prix winner in history, scoring that honour aged just fifteen years and ten months, then came close to winning the 125cc title the following season. Marco dominated the 250s in 2002, and started from the front row on a MotoGP Yamaha when aged twenty. He looks a more complete article these days, now with Honda, and could just be following on the heels of Valentino Rossi

Marco Melandri · photo by Diederik van der Laan
Marco Melandri · photo by
Diederik van der Laan

First 50cc motorcycle

Made racing début

8th in Italian Minibike Junior A championship

2nd in Italian Minibike Junior A championship

Italian Minibike Junior A Champion

2nd in Italian Minibike Junior B championship

Italian Minibike Junior B Champion; Italian Sport Production races, with an Aprilia

Honda 125cc GP Trophy races

13th in Honda Italy Trophy; débuted in Italian 125cc championship, with a Honda

4th in European 125cc championship; Italian 125cc Champion; Honda Italy Trophy winner; World Championship 125cc début - all with a Honda
Raced the number 13 machine for Matteoni Racing in the Czech GP, finishing 17th

1998 Benetton Matteoni, number 13 Honda
Marco was a revelation in his first full 125cc GP season, finishing second in the fourth, fifth and sixth races, and immediately following on with victory in Assen. He also won in Brno, and another four finishes in the top four took him to third overall, on 202 points

1999 Playlife Racing Team - Liégeois, number 13 Honda
Melandri looked ready to win the title in 1999, but failed to score in the first three races. He made amends with five wins in the last eight rounds, to add to another six results in the top six, and he also started from pole three times. In Argentina, the last round, he only needed to beat Emílio Alzamora by six points. Leading the race, Marco tried to block the Spaniard, so that someone else might take second away from him. The plan didn’t work, with the title going to Alzamora 227 to 226, without actually winning a race

2000 Aprilia Grand Prix Racing, number 35 Aprilia
Moving up to the 250cc series with Aprilia, Melandri soon dropped the number 13 after a mid-season lull, and his rookie year in the class saw him in the top six twelve times. Best of these were third places in four of the last five races, with his first pole position coming at the third last venue. His score of 159 points placed him fifth in the table

2001 MS Aprilia Racing, number 5 Aprilia
The 2001 season saw Tetsuya Harada return to the 250s to lead Aprilia, with the former champion coming up against a dominant Daijiro Kato and Honda. Marco was ‘best of the rest’, winning in Germany and starting from the front row nine times. He had nine podium scores altogether, and four fastest laps, with his third place achieved from 194 points on the board

2002 MS Aprilia Racing, number 3 Aprilia
With Kato and Harada both moving up to the top class, 2002 was Melandri’s year. His nine race wins included six in a row during the summer, and he ended up comfortably clear of Fonsi Nieto. There were only two pole positions, to Nieto’s nine, but Marco started on the front rank in all races bar one, and also recorded four fastest laps. 298 was his final points tally

2003 Fortuna Yamaha Team, number 33 Yamaha
Elevated to the MotoGP class, as Carlos Checa’s team-mate, the year started badly for Melandri when he was injured in the first race meeting. He missed a couple of races as a result, but qualified an impressive fourth in France, round four, and went one better at Donington. There were some good race outings, too, such as when he traded the lead with the established stars in Australia, but on the whole the Yamaha runners struggled to match Honda’s big guns. Marco managed to crash at Phillip Island, and was left with a best result of fifth, and first Yamaha home, in Motegi. He scored 45 points, which meant fifteenth overall

2004 Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3, number 33 Yamaha
Melandri was moved sideways for his second top class season, where he joined Norick Abe in the Tech 3 outfit. He went well enough with the M1 to appear at the sharp end more than a couple of times, particularly in the wet, but also managed to crash a few times too many. An overall improvement brought him to 75 points and twelfth in the final table

2005 MoviStar Honda MotoGP, number 33 Honda
Marco was big news in 2005, as he settled with the Honda RCV and added consistent finishing to his armoury. Despite a mid-season lull, he was thirteen times in the top six, including seven podium results, and these included his first two class victories. His 220 points placed him second overall, and certainly showed him in a good light against experienced team-mate Sete Gibernau. He also took three fastest laps

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