Hard on the heels of the announcement that Cal Crutchlow will be moving into the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team comes confirmation of his replacement in the Sterilgarda Yamaha team he leaves behind. As reported previously, current Gresini Honda rider Marco Melandri will be making the switch to Yamaha's World Superbike squad, taking the seat vacated by Crutchlow.
Below is the official release from Yamaha, and the official announcement of Melandri's departure from Gresini Honda:
Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team confirms Marco Melandri for 2011
The Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team has signed an agreement with Italian MotoGP rider Marco Melandri to join the World Superbike Championship for the 2011 race season. 28yr old Melandri will replace current Yamaha Superbike rider Cal Crutchlow who stays within the Yamaha family, moving to MotoGP to replace Ben Spies on The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 bike.
Melandri is a former 250cc GP World Champion and has finished as highly as 2nd in the MotoGP Championship with five MotoGP race victories to date in his career and a further 10 250ccGP victories.
"I'm very happy with this new challenge, it's a big change and I want to fight for world superbike wins," said Marco Melandri. "It's nice to be back with Yamaha; I know many people there; I was very young when I rode with them before, now I'm much more mature. As the reigning 2009 champions The Yamaha Sterilgarda Team have proved to have a very competitive package and are one of the top teams in World Superbike. I realise Superbike is not easy and I know I have to work hard. I'm looking forward to feeling the adrenalin again and fighting for the championship."
"Marco is a great signing for the World Superbike Team. He has massive experience at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing and is extremely motivated to have the opportunity to challenge for race wins again. Whilst it is sad to see Cal leave us to move on up in the Yamaha family we are excited to have a serious title contender such as Marco joining us." Said Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Manager Laurens Klein Koerkamp.
MARCO MELANDRI AND TEAM SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI TO PART WAYS AT THE END OF THE SEASON
The last round of the current season at Valencia will also mark the end of the collaboration between Marco Melandri and Team San Carlo Honda Gresini. The two parties will go their separate ways following a difficult season that owes much to Melandri's unfortunate accident at the Dutch TT. After enjoying fantastic seasons together in 2005, 2006 and 2007 Marco Melandri and Fausto Gresini were reunited this year through a strong friendship that they hoped would translate into equally strong results on the track. Team San Carlo Honda Gresini would like to thank Marco Melandri and wish him the very best for his next challenge, with the hope that this current adventure can finish in the best way possible.
"I would like to thank Marco for this season on behalf of myself, our sponsors and everybody who works with the team," Fausto Gresini - "I'm glad that we were able to spend another season together because we are great friends and I hope that we can achieve the results that have eluded us so far in what remains of the championship. I encourage him to take on his next challenge with great determination and I am sure he can be as successful there as he was with us in 2005, 2006 and 2007."
"It was a difficult decision because this is the best team I have worked with in my career," said Marco Melandri. "But I felt that I needed a new challenge and the genuine opportunity to be back fighting for wins and podiums led me to make this choice. It will be a big change for me but I would like to thank Fausto and everybody else at Team San Carlo Honda Gresini for the opportunity they gave me this season. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out as we hoped but there are still plenty of races left this season and we will be doing our best. I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the team because they have given 100% to the job and always believed in me - the guys at the track, back at home, in the hospitality and obviously the sponsors who always back us up. They have all helped me grow and taught me a lot of things. I have learnt a lot about the important values of this sport and above all of life. I am sure we will stay close friends and maybe one day with my new business venture I can come back to sponsor them!"