Marco Melandri sent the Italian crowd home with smiles on their faces and lifted a weight off the shoulders of a nation. Italy has waited three years to finally claim their 100th victory in WorldSBK and today at Misano it was Melandri who took the checkered flag and ended their wait.
The Ducati rider matched the feat of Andrea Dovizioso in MotoGP, winning his home race on an Italian bike, and in doing so Melandri once again showed that he truly is back on the pace. Going into the race Chaz Davies, who was on the sidelines following his Race 1 injury, earmarked his teammate as the man to beat and Melandri didn't disappoint.
Starting from tenth on the grid Melandri picked his way through the field before taking the lead from a hugely impressive Jordi Torres. The Spaniard had led for most of the proceedings, the first time a BMW had led a WorldSBK race this season, but Torres was ultimately undone by a tire problem in the final quarter of the race. It was cruel luck for the one time WorldSBK race winner as he sought a podium for the Althea squad.
That opened the door for Jonathan Rea to inherit second position and an all important 20 championship points ahead of his closest title rival, Tom Sykes.
For Melandri it was a serene Sunday ride that saw him ease his way into the lead and pull away from the pack to take the flag and 25 points. The win saw Melandri join Marco Lucchinelli, Giancarlo Falappa, Frankie Chili, Lorenzo Lanzi and Michele Fabrizio as native winners on the Ducati. It also saw Melandri claim a WorldSBK victory for a record fourth different manufacturer.