It's been clear for some time now that Marco Melandri's career in MotoGP is over. The Italian shone brightly for a couple of years on the 990 MotoGP bikes, but his fortunes have faded since the switch to 800cc, and especially since his disastrous year on the Ducati in 2008. A return to the Gresini Honda team in 2010, the team that he scored his most famous victories with, could not turn Melandri's MotoGP career around, and the Italian is now headed for World Superbikes.
It had generally been expected that Melandri would be joining BMW's World Superbike squad for 2011, taking the place of the disappointing Ruben Xaus. But Italian site GPOne.com is reporting that Melandri will not be heading for the German manufacturer, but will instead take a seat in the Sterilgarda Yamaha squad. According to GPOne.com, Melandri's manager met with Lin Jarvis and Laurens Klein Koerkamp of Yamaha, and has agreed terms for 2011. An official announcement is expected to be made tomorrow after the World Superbike race at the Nurburgring in Germany.
The news is further confirmation that at least one of Yamaha's two World Superbike riders are due to depart the squad. Cal Crutchlow is widely expected to announce his move to the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad this weekend, which would vacate at least one seat in the Sterilgarda Yamaha squad, but James Toseland has also been linked to the BMW Motorrad team, and could also take the place of Xaus. Once announcements have been made by Crutchlow and Melandri, more of the chips may start to fall in the World Superbike silly season.