Comeback trail leads to Estoril
After a top performance from both Honda Gresini riders in the race at Misano, which featured memorable fight-backs from Marco Melandri and Toni Elias, the pair are looking forward with renewed motivation to the Grand Prix of Portugal,
the 14th round of the MotoGP World Championship.
Melandri, on the back of a creditable sixth place in Germany, a podium at Laguna Seca and fourth place at Misano, confirmed his good form in the test immediately following the San Marino Grand Prix:
"I'm happy because the bike and tyres are working well and we have found some interesting solutions. We've worked together with the Bridgestone technicians towards the next race. I made the most of the entire day to work on the setting of the bike to try and make up for the time we lost because of the weather on Friday and the crash on Saturday."
Marco has enjoyed a short break as he continues to recover from his injuries.
"I'm highly motivated. The bike and the tyres are at a high level and now we just need the result to go with it. I'm keen to get back on the podium, like I did at Laguna, because it would be a nice way to pay back my team, who have worked so hard and given me so much. It will be a big challenge for us in Portugal - Estoril is a difficult circuit with so many first-gear corners and two long straights, one in fifth gear, one in sixth, where we might struggle a bit. The characteristics of our bike are better suited to a more flowing circuit but I'm ready for this race and the final rush that will take us to Japan, Australia and Malaysia before returning to Europe for the last round at Valencia."
Toni Elias has high expectations for Estoril after taking his debut MotoGP victory there last season ahead of two World Champions in the shape of Valentino Rossi and Kenny Roberts.
Famous for his spectacular sliding style, Toni demonstrated his tenacity and determination at Brno and Misano, where he fought through the pain of a recovering left femur, which was broken just two months earlier in a practice crash at Assen.
"I'm happy to be heading back to a circuit that holds so many fond memories for me. The win last season in MotoGP was probable the best of my career but now I am just looking ahead and trying to do well this Sunday. I'm just trying to improve my performance race by race - I got eleventh at Brno after three races out and seventh at Misano. They are not the results I want but at the moment I am restricted by my physical condition. I like the circuit, especially the uphill chicane, which characterises the kind of corner you get at this circuit - slow but technical esses, probably the slowest in the world. The straight is long, almost a kilometre, and is very fast, followed by hard braking. The final bend is quite fast and crucial to a good lap time."