Melandri To Ducati: All But Official

A move which has been rumored for a very long time looks like coming to fruition after the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. According to the Italian site GPOne.com, Marco Melandri will officially sign with Ducati after Laguna Seca, as he still has a condition open in the pre-agreement he signed with Ducati at the end of last year. Although Melandri eventually re-signed with Gresini Honda, this was only after Gresini matched Ducati's financial offer, as stipulated in the contract Melandri had with Ducati. Now, it appears, this contract had a couple of extra clauses, one of which gives Melandri the option of joining Ducati, subject to his standing in the championship after Laguna Seca. In brief, it boils down to Melandri having an existing, legally binding contract with Ducati, if Marco Melandri is in the top 6 in the championship after the US GP.

Being 6th after Sunday's race looks eminently feasible for the Italian, as Melandri currently lies 5th in the championship, 6 points behind John Hopkins. But just 4 points behind him is Chris Vermeulen, a man who looked capable of winning last year's race at Laguna until fuel problems stopped him in his tracks. And 9 points behind Melandri is Colin Edwards, determined to do well at his home race. Melandri could even be threatened by the man who has won the last two races held here at Laguna, Nicky Hayden. The Kentucky Kid is 24 points behind Melandri, but could theoretically sneak ahead of the Italian if he wins here and Melandri only manages a 15th place or worse. Below is a table of the relevant positions, so you can calculate the possible permutations yourself.

With all this going on, we can be sure to expect an announcement on Melandri's future soon. And by extension, that of Loris Capirossi.

                                    
4 HOPKINS John USA 103
5 MELANDRI Marco ITA 97
6 VERMEULEN Chris AUS 93
7 EDWARDS Colin USA 88
8 CAPIROSSI Loris ITA 77
9 HAYDEN Nicky USA 73

(Full MotoGP championship standings here.)

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