Just two days ago we told you that Marco Melandri would be headed to the Racing – Ducati World Superbike team, replacing fellow Italian Davide Giugliano. That news has been publicly confirmed today, with Melandri set to join Chaz Davies on the factory WSBK team.

The move is a surprising return for Marco Melandri back into motorcycle racing, as the Italian took a hiatus during the 2016 season, after a less-than-amicable departure from the struggling Aprilia MotoGP team last year.

Melandri’s reputation as a racer, and perhaps his desperation to come back to motorcycle racing, comes with a price though, as the former 250GP World Champion is said to be forgoing a salary from Ducati Corse. Instead, Melandri is bringing his own money to the team, and likely has a performance-based pay schedule.

“I’m really excited to come back to racing, it’s a dream come true,” Melandri stated. “I always said I was only interested in a top bike and top team, and I could not have asked for more. I kept following WorldSBK closely, and I’m confident the Panigale R can perfectly suit my riding style,” said Melandri, while talking to

“We’ll just have to take one step at a time, but the potential is surely high. I know it won’t be easy to get back up to speed, but I have all the time to step on the bike, do laps and make sure I’m ready for the first test: to this end, I will skip the holidays to train on a street version of the Panigale R.”

After a lull in racing results, Ducati has high hopes for both its MotoGP and World Superbike factory team efforts, and the pressure to win shows in the lengths the Italian company has gone through in order to secure victory.

As such, part of Melandri’s financial situation in coming back to WSBK can be attributed to the costs Ducati Corse had to endure in order to secure the services of Jorge Lorenzo in MotoGP, and Chaz Davies in World Superbike – both riders that Ducati views as central to it winning another world title in each class.

In World Superbike, with the Panigale R expected to be Ducati’s superbike racing platform for at least another season, Davies is the most well-suited rider to carry the Italian marque’s standard.

And with Melandri, Ducati hopes to find and benefit from some of the genius that they had hoped Giugliano would show, but never realized. Melandri is a wild card for Ducati, one who on his day, can fight not only for podiums, but also race wins. If the stars align, Melandri could even be a title contender.

As such, the Davies/Melandri duo should be a strong package to go against the Kawasaki riders, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes. Melandri comes to the Ducati World Superbike team with 19 wins and 49 podiums, in just 100 races in WSBK.

Expect 2017 to be Melandri’s audition for a larger role in the World Superbike Championship.

Source: Ducati Corse

  • Ross Miller

    Jensen, how often to top riders in series like this bring their own funding? I have to think its rather rare? In this case it makes sense and if Melandri can do as well as Chaz (in 2017), I’d assume there would be pay in the 2018 season.

  • It is very rare to see a rider in a factory team paying for the ride. Then again, it’s also very rare to see a rider burn several bridges, take a season off, and then get a factory seat, so…

  • Ross Miller

    Ha! I was going to omit that fact. But what is the saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” or something like that. With a last minute “factory” team in WSBK for 2017, Ducati might be wanting to gamble on a ton of talent for no salary. I’m a die hard Tom Skyes fan, but I’d love to see the Ducati’s battling at the front more consistently.

  • Thamer

    I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. What ever happen with Aprilia in GP, in SBK he showed he can be a team player and gifted SG the 2014 title. I also loved watching him at both BMW and Yamaha, his riding style is entertaining. If the riders get rated on the level of hot WAGS in the Paddock, Melandri will win. Have you seen his GF 😗

  • Christopher Ring

    Never thought I’d see him and Ducati together again, they talked about him like he was a dog after that disaster of a season in 2008. Not that Marco was ever going to be popular in the paddock but taking a privateer approach to a factory seat has the potential to drive down salaries for everyone, probably making him one of the more despised people in the paddock.

  • YEP!

    I’m just happy we will get to see his hot wife on TV again.

  • Kevin Ould

    I could care less about Melandri after I “met” him during an autograph session at one of the MotoGP rounds last year. He was the biggest douche in person. He wasn’t even paying any attention to the fans who wanted his autograph, barely acknowledged anyone. I get that he wasn’t happy being back in GP and I get that the riders probably don’t really enjoy these sessions but it is all part of the job so suck it up and at least act like you are interested.

  • madchilli

    I’m glad to see him back.

  • Daniel Caruso

    WHY??? I get it keep you Italian sponsors happy but the guy is a pre-madona, cry baby, and certainly past his prime. Why not Lorenzo Savadori he’s Italian, fast, way young and only getting better?????

  • UnsteadyVelocity

    Because Salvadori or anybody else would have wanted a salary (rightfully so). Melandri brings his own sponsors and will not get paid. Also, primadonna.

  • Daniel Caruso

    i get the $$ part but the guy clearly needs “the right feeling” with the bike in order to push. Pretty sure Salvadori would have sign for a modest salary with bonuses. Melandri hasn’t won any titles since 2002 on a 250 Savadori would have been a better choice for the future.. Hope Aprilia fields RSV4’s with factory support next year.

  • UnsteadyVelocity

    I am not disagreeing with you on the value of the rider.fact is though that Malandri is better known than Salvador I, who would have brought less money in terms of sponsors. Ducati was not looking for a rider to win, because it has that already – they needed a sparring partner who was Italian. And Malandri came for free.

  • Daniel Caruso

    “Melandri” is a quiter he quit on Ducati and Aprilia.

  • Alclab

    * It should be: “I couldn’t care less”. Meaning not giving a f…

  • Alclab

    just FYI it’s not “pre-madona”, it’s “prima donna” meaning the first lady in an opera, who were generally “divas” or really bitchy celebrity like women. ;)

  • Daniel Caruso

    YES i know auto correct android… thanks ;)

  • Neil Vukosa


  • Dustin Nisbet-Jones

    Pasta prima donna

  • tony

    douche bag. or is it douchebag ? oh well, no matter…