Confirming the news we reported yesterday, Marco Melandri has made his retirement announcement official. As such, the 36-year-old Italian will hang up his leathers for good, at the end of this year’s WorldSBK Championship season.
Melandri’s career spans three decades of racing, and includes some impressive feats, but his results this season have surely been the deciding factor on today’s announcement.
Currently ninth in the WorldSBK Championship standings, Melandri’s season has seen high points at Phillip Island and Jerez, but has otherwise been a forgettable affair. This surely has been the cause for Melandri’s lack of motivation to continue racing.
“The decision to retire was a very difficult one for me to make. I’d been thinking about it for some time and, before the Imola race, I finally decided to call it a day at the end of the 2019 season,” said Melandri in a press statement.
“I’m still competitive and I think it’s better to stop at this point, while I still enjoy racing, rather than waiting until the enjoyment and the results are more difficult to achieve.”
“Since making the decision I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders and now that everyone knows this is my final year, I’m even more motivated to push for good results in the final few races. In part it’s for me, as I’d like to go out on a high, but it’s also to repay the faith that both Yamaha and the GRT Yamaha team have shown in me.”
“It’s been a difficult season, but they have worked so hard to help me realize my potential. They never gave up on me and I hope that my experience has helped the team adapt to racing in WorldSBK just that little bit quicker.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing out my final season with them and I intend to give it my all, treating every lap like a qualifying lap and pushing to improve myself and bring the team the results they deserve. Then it will be time to move on and do something different with my life. For me it’s been a fantastic journey; thank you to everyone I met along the way.”
At 15 years of age, Marco Melandri became the youngest rider to win a grand prix race (125GP), a record that stood for 10 years. In his second year of GP racing, Melandri missed the 125GP Championship title by just one point.
Moving to the 250GP class proved more fruitful, with Melandri winning the title in his third year (2002), where he won nine races on his way to the championship.
The next year, Melandri moved to the MotoGP Championship, and saw his best result come in 2005, where he was the championship runner-up to Valentino Rossi. He won the final two races that year, and go on the podium seven times.
In 2011, Marco Melandri made the switch from the MotoGP paddock to WorldSBK, and was the runner-up in his inaugural season there. The following year with BMW, Melandri was third overall.
In WorldSBK, the Italian has secured 75 podium finishes, 22 of which were race wins, which makes him one of the most successful riders on the WorldSBK grid right now.
Mercurial in nature, Melandri is one of the great talents on any grid when he has his day…if he has his day. Still, he will be missed by many racing fans next year, and we hope that he ends his career in 2019 with more success with the GRT Yamaha squad.
Source: GRT Yamaha