Read about Marco Melandri, including career highlights, pictures and news of the road racer right here at Motorcycle USA.
Rider: Marco Melandri
Team: Aprilia Racing
Machine: Aprilia RSV4 (#33)
Born: August 7, 1982 in Ravenna, Italy
Marco Melandri was introduced to a mini-bike at the age of six and was soon racing through the national leagues toward bigger titles. In 1997 he became known for winning the Italian 125cc championship and finishing fourth in the European 125cc championship, both when he was only 14. The next year Benetton Honda made him a regular on the 125cc World circuit. An impressive performance at the Assen TT made him the youngest rider at the time to win a Grand Prix. He finished third for the year, and in the next season he missed the Championship title by only one point.
After nearly winning the 125 crown in ’98-99, he moved up to the 250 class. He was signed by Aprilia in 2000 to replace Valentino Rossi after he moved into the 500cc championship. Melandri quickly become a fan favorite. Despite struggling with the larger bike he still managed to place fifth overall. The next year he followed with his first Grand Prix win in the class and took third for the season. In 2002 Melandri established himself as one of the premier riders in GP. He dominated the 250 class on his way to his first World Championship. His reward: a factory Yamaha MotoGP ride alongside Carlos Checa on the 4-stroke M1.
The Yamaha bikes struggled to keep pace with their Honda and Ducati competitors, leaving Melandri with just two third-place finishes for the year. He fared no better the next year after moving to the Tech 3 Yamaha satellite team, and consequentially was released from his contract in 2004.
In 2011 Marco Melandri (33) transitioned to
the World Superbike Championship where he
competed with the Factory Yamaha squad.
In 2005 Fausto Gresini picked up Melandri to race for the Movistar Honda team alongside Sete Gibernau. Melandri turned out to be a good fit for the Honda RC211V. He racked-up a series of podium finishes and capped the season off with back-to-back wins in Turkey and Valencia, finishing the season as a strong-runner up to the champion, Valentino Rossi. The next year saw him riding beside Toni Elias on Gresini’s Fortuna Honda Team. Melandri was right up with the championship leaders when a nasty first-turn pileup at Catalunya spoiled his championship intentions. Instead, Supermarco had to settle for fourth overall. In 2007 the Italian earned fifth place in the championship, and Ducati decided to draft him to ride on its factory 2008 team.
2008 proved disastrous. Bad blood soon developed between the vocal Italian and Marlboro Ducati. He signed a two-year contract with Kawasaki, but Team Green unexpectedly pulled its MotoGP factory support for 2009. Despite this, Melandri contested the 2009 season as a Hayate Racing rider on a Ninja ZX-RR without factory sponsorship, and finished 10th overall. In 2010 the Italian made the move to the San Carlo Gresini squad, but he failed to reach the podium and finished 10th overall for the second consecutive year.
After disappointing results in GP, Melandri decided to switch to World Superbike for 2011 with Factory Yamaha. The decision quickly proved to be a good one as the Italian earned 4 victories and an additional 15 podiums over the course of his debut season. In the end Melandi finished second overall behind Carlos Checa in the championship.
Following Yamaha’s withdrawl from WSBK, Melandri moved to BMW Motorrad for 2012 and had a year dramatic highs and lows during his campaign. He made an impression on the grid in the first race of the season, weaving through the field from 13th to finish in second. Subsequent races found him lagging a bit as compared to that first outing, but he always finished 10th or better and remained well within the hunt for the overall points lead as his performance improved on the S1000RR. Supermarco made history in Round 5 at Donington when he notched his first race win of the year, giving BMW its first ever World Superbike race win. After that, Melandri was on fire, taking first and second-place finishes in a host of races. In total he logged 11 podiums, six of which were race wins.
He even gained the overall points lead briefly late in the season, but lost it after an incredibly disappointing round at Nurburgring when he crashed out of both races. The following contest at Portimao was even worse, with Melandri crashing hard in Race 1 and having to sit out Race 2 completely. He was able to salvage some points in the finale at Magny-Cours, but couldn’t regain the top overall position and settled for third in the championship.
The BMW Motorrad team of 2012 was realigned to create BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team in 2013, which saw BMW Motorrad Italia take responsibility for the race and test outings and chassis work. BMW Motorrad in Munich worked primarily on the power train and electronics. Melandri remained in the saddle and hopes were high that the Italian would bring the German marque a title.
Round 1 at Phillip Island proved to be a mix of highs and lows. In Race 1 Melandri was clipped by Carlos Checa and both riders went down. Melandri was able to return for Race 2, where he pushed his way up to finish third. He reinjured an already pained shoulder in the crash and decided to undergo surgery directly after leaving Australia.
Upon his return the following round, the Italian rider scored another podium and from there remained a consistent contender within the top-five throughout the season. A DNF at Assen and a 12th in Portimao were his worst showings of the year.
Though he took 12 podiums in total, three of which were wins, he struggled to seriously challenge for the top-spot overall. In the final round at Jerez, Melandri gave one of his most memorable performances of the year when he battled against Eugene Laverty for the win, falling to the runner-up spot after Laverty made a bold final-lap pass. The BMW rider didn’t return to compete in Race 2 after the tough battle due to increased pain in his ankle due to a prior injury. Melandri finished the season fourth overall.
BMW announced it would exit World Superbike at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Melandri was picked up by Aprilia Racing to replace Eugene Laverty for 2014 and has the option to extend his contract through 2015.
2013 – 4th World Superbike – BMW
2012 – 3rd World Superbike – BMW
2011 – 2nd World Superbike – Yamaha
2010 – 10th MotoGP – Honda
2009 – 10th MotoGP – Kawasaki
2008 – 17th MotoGP – Ducati
2007 – 5th MotoGP – Honda
2006 – 4th MotoGP – Honda
2005 – 2nd MotoGP – Honda
2004 – 12th MotoGP – Yamaha
2003 – 15th MotoGP – Yamaha
2002 – 1st 250 World Championship – Aprilia
2001 – 3rd 250 World Championship – Aprilia
2000 – 5th 250 World Championship – Aprilia
1999 – 2nd 125 World Championship – Honda
1998 – 3rd 125 World Championship – Honda
1997 – 1st 125 Italian Championship – Honda
1997 – 1st 125 Honda Trophy – Honda
1997 – 4th 125 World Trophy – Honda
1996 – 125 Italian Championship – Honda
1996 – 13th 125 World Trophy – Honda