Estoril : Fortuna Honda - Preview
After his exciting victory in the Australian GP and a podium in Motegi, the chase for the title is back on for Marco Melandri. Currently third in the championship on 209 points, 27 behind series leader Nicky Hayden, the Fortuna Honda rider
has two more races to make up the gap - a difficult but not impossible mission for the 24year-old rider, who has already shown this season that he is a winning rider, ready to tackle any situation.
Thanks to the renewal of the contract with the Honda Gresini team for next season, Marco Melandri can tackle the final two races with extra motivation. "After two difficult months, I'm happy to keep on working with Fausto Gresini who has always believed in me, supporting me in all situations. After two years together I look confident to next year and hope to reach important goals," said Marco Melandri. "I'm really happy with the team around me, we're all working well together. Now I can focus on the two final races, trying to do my best every GP."
Estoril and Valencia promise to deliver a cliff-hanger of a season finale - two races with any number of riders ready to go for the win and challenge for the maximum points haul of 50.
The 16th round of a demanding season takes place at a challenging circuit that combines tight corners and long straights. The changeable conditions always represent an added area of risk because of the circuit's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, which can provoke drastic weather changes and strong winds.
Marco Melandri explained: "Now we go to two circuits that I like - I'm ready for this final challenge. I have shown that I am competitive in all conditions and I'm ready to fight to win every Sunday. The championship has never been as open as it is this year and I'm not in a position to defend, I can take a few risks and just focus on setting the bike up to enjoy myself. It's important at this circuit that the bike is well balanced, stable under braking and agile in the direction changes. It's actually quite a slow circuit, characterised by one long straight and five first gear corners. Last year the race was spoilt by the rain - it was a strange race and I finished fifth. Now I feel motivated, I'm in good form and the recent good results have given me extraordinary energy."
His team-mate Toni Elias added: "Together with the team we're doing a really good job now and we take another step forward every time. A second row start and sixth place in the race in Japan mean I can look forward to the next round with optimism. I'm determined to turn this difficult season around and I hope things can go well from the start at Estoril. I like the track, especially the uphill chicane, which is the distinctive section of the track - a really slow but technical 'S', probably the slowest on the calendar. The straight, which is almost a kilometre long, is fast and is followed by really hard braking into turn 1 whilst the last corner is also quite fast and is crucial to a good lap time."