Marco Melandri steps across from MotoGP to join fellow rookie Eugene Laverty in the Yamaha World Superbike Team for the 2011 season. This will be the 28yr old Italian rider’s first season on a Superbike, but not his first ride with Yamaha having made his MotoGP debut in 2003 riding the YZR-M1 for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team. Melandri replaces Cal Crutchlow who stays within the Yamaha family, moving to MotoGP to replace Ben Spies on The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 bike.
The new Yamaha Superbike rider is a former 250cc GP World Champion and has finished as high as second in the MotoGP Championship with five MotoGP race victories to date in his career and a further 10 250ccGP victories.
Melandri, originally from Ravenna, began his racing career at the age of 8, racing minimoto, going on to make his world championship debut at the age of 15 in the 125cc world championships. He went on to break the record that year for the youngest ever rider to win a GP race, winning the 125cc Assen GP race whilst still 15yrs old. The following year he wrapped up his 125CC career as runner up in the championship before moving on to the 250cc world championship in 2000.
2002 saw him break a second record, at the age of 20 he became the youngest ever 250cc world champion, winning nine of the year’s 16 races. The then reigning 250cc world champion moved on to his MotoGP debut with Yamaha, finishing 15th in the season despite unfortunate crashes during the year. Melandri’s career in GP continued to the end of the 2010 season with several teams, recording a highest placed finish of second in the 2005 standings and fourth in the 2006 championship.
Although Italian, Melandri spends most of his time at his home in Derby in the UK and when not racing likes to DJ, read and ride Motocross bikes.