Melandri on Bassani-Kawasaki potential: “His motivation is very high… I see him like a sponge”

He won WorldSBK races for four different manufacturers, fought for titles regularly and is one of a handful of riders to have won multiple races in both the World Superbike paddock and the MotoGP™ one; Marco Melandri is widely regarded as one of the most versatile riders in the last 20 years of motorcycle racing. The 2011 WorldSBK runner-up, 2002 250cc World Champion and – as recent as 2018 – a WorldSBK Championship leader, was back in the paddock during the recent test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, providing a helping hand to Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), although nothing is confirmed whether it’s a full-time addition for the #47. We caught up with him to find out what he thought about his fellow countryman.

“IT’S LIKE A HOLIDAY TO ME” – Melandri returns to WorldSBK paddock

Speaking at the end of two days, Melandri stated just how nice it was to be back in the paddock: “It’s like a holiday to me! Axel asked me if I could come and see him on track and follow him a bit and it was also a good chance to come back. I like Axel and I know that for a young rider, it’s not easy to jump into a factory team. I have a lot of experience myself and it’s nice to be back here and for me to be back at a track.

“Everything came back so quick! To see them riding the bike, I feel like I am on the bike and every time Axel says a comment, I imagine myself on the bike! I know Marcel Duinker and Danilo Casonato from when I rode in MotoGP™ in 2009, so I helped a little bit. I know how difficult it is for a young rider to explain what he feels. Different riders can explain the same thing in different ways so I wanted to try and help him find the way but I think he’s a smart enough on his own!”

RACING VS TESTING: Bassani’s key strengths analysed

Assessing Bassani’s strengths right now, the ex-MotoGP™ and WorldSBK runner-up said: “His speed and talent are there; he has good potential He’s faster during the race than the test but I think they’ve done a great job. Every time he tested something, he could understand what was working and what wasn’t, so this is very important to improve day by day. He can achieve good results.

“Every bike is working in the same way; more or less, when you modify something, they’re the same and their characteristics are the same as each other. That’s why I think I have a lot of experience that I can transfer to help him. I see him like a sponge; every time I spotted something on track, he was taking it on board for the next run. It looks like he takes information well. His motivation is very high and this is a very good point; it’s not always easy so you have to keep it very high. His riding style is a good aspect too. He needs time to adapt as he comes from Ducati and it’s a different kind of bike. He’s working in a good way.”

“MANY RIDERS CAN WIN RACES” – is the #33 happy to be off the modern grid?

Finally, it was a look ahead to the bigger picture in WorldSBK and the competitive level right now: “I am glad to not race because I am old! Every year has crazy people and we were crazy too sometimes! I saw Nicolo Bulega riding well but then, once you’re in the race and in the middle of the group. You have to not only be fast but also smart. Many riders can win races which is very interesting.”

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