Melandri Back With Yamaha WSBK For 2012

Marco Melandri's decision to switch series has paid off handsomely for the Italian. Melandri went from struggling to score top 10 finishes in MotoGP to regular winner and championship contender in World Superbikes, the factory Yamaha rider now challenging Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa for the 2011 WSBK title.

So it comes as no surprise that Melandri has extended his contract with the factory Yamaha World Superbike squad for another year, according to GPOne.com. The agreement will see Melandri remain alongside Irish teammate Eugene Laverty for another season, Yamaha's WSBK team remaining unchanged for the first time since 2008. It is also the first time since 2007 that Marco Melandri will be staying with the same team and riding the same bike for two years in a row.

Melandri's contract extension is the first move in what could be a long and very late World Superbike silly season. The Yamaha team is now set for 2012, but just about every other team is likely to see a radical shakeup. At Aprilia, it is still unclear whether Max Biaggi will stay on to serve the second year of his two-year contract, while Leon Camier is widely rumored to be heading for the door.

At BMW, Troy Corser is almost certain to retire, while Leon Haslam is desperate to leave, having been sorely disappointed by the difficulties in setting the S1000RR up to be competitive. Honda is almost certain to lose Ruben Xaus, and Jonathan Rea is set on moving to MotoGP for 2012, though a lack of seats on Honda MotoGP machines may put paid to that idea.

The situation at Suzuki is even less clear, as there are doubts over whether Suzuki will even be fielding a factory-supported team next season, and Alstare is said to be talking  to Kawasaki about running their factory effort. Paul Bird, current Kawasaki factory team owner, is equally determined to retain the contract, but who will be riding for him remains uncertain, the only sure thing being that it will not be Chris Vermeulen, who has struggled with injury this year. 

The new Ducati superbike is the most hotly sought-after rider in the World Superbike paddock at the moment, with Ducati expected to return with a two-rider factory squad for 2012. Carlos Checa is almost certain to feature in their plans, but the second seat remains up for grabs. The only question over Ducati's WSBK return is whether they will have any spare cash to run the team. The small Bologna factory is currently spending cubic Euros in a desperate attempt to make the Desmosedici MotoGP bike competitive, with new engines and chassis being thrown at the project while nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi languishes 20+ seconds off the pace. If the factory has to keep throwing money at making their MotoGP bike competitive - an aluminium box section twin spar frame is rumored to make its appearance at the Brno post-race tests in mid-August, the second radical revision of the bike since the start of the season - then running a two-rider factory team in World Superbikes may not be at the top of its priorities. Especially when the nominally privateer Althea Ducati squad is already doing such a sterling job of batting for the title.

 

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Comments

I dont follow WSBK closely. Why is Biaggi considering not completing his 2 year contract?

Total votes: 56

He was ready to retire after winning the title last season and having a child but decided to come back to defend his title.

Total votes: 79

Age mainly and, as written by Punkass, a growing family.

Total votes: 66

The rumour mill has it that RdP is considering SBK next year.
Factory Ducati SBK team 2012...Carlos and Randy. Why not ?
Ducati won't win anything in GP next year and expatriate GP riders own SBK.
Instead of throwing money at Rossi and company, they can ressurect the D16RR road bike for a fraction of the cost. Stick it back in the steel trellis frame and conquer the world.
Hell,the riders could choose between the trellis L-4 1000 and the trellis L-2 1200 by circuit at a fraction of the CF/Rossi experiment cost and win.
Ducati could even sell the D16RR engine to CRT teams next year to bring in a buck to support lack of revenue from sponsors doing a GP 2012 U-turn.
Moriwaki/Ducati's etc.
There never was anything wrong with Preziosi's D16 brainchild. Okay, it was Dr.T's brainchild with the ill fated Apollo back then.

Total votes: 66

I remember one test saying that the D16RR was "almost as good as an R1" :)

Given all the development done on the 1198, I reckon it would be far more competitive. And of course we'll be holding our breath to see if the 1199 turns out to be better than the GP11...

Total votes: 59

Maybe a move to WSBK is exactly what RdP needs next year. Look how it's paid off for Melandri. Even last year when RdP was on the LCR Honda he couldn't quite bridge the gap to those "aliens" & could only manage best of the rest status for the first half of the season anyway. Better to be running at the front & contending for wins in WSBK than struggling at the back of the MotoGP field.

Total votes: 70

Any chance Colin Edwards makes a return to WSBk if he loses his MotoGP ride? No idea if he will lose his ride in GP, just curious. Tech3 seems to like him but he was on the bubble last year. This year he has been more competitive so perhaps they might give him an extension.

Johnny Rea isn't competitive on the current Honda, but that's down to the Honda more than the rider. How does he think he'll do on a similarly competitive bike in MotoGP? Last I checked there were two pretty good riders on the Ducati team that aren't doing so hot. If Honda comes out with a new, better CBR1000RR (and they are way overdue) then Rea might make a bigger impact in WSBk.

Total votes: 68

Likely, the only reason that he will leave MotoGP is through retirement. Who else is going to ride that thing? He's done as good or better than anyone that Tech 3 has brought (Except for Spies.. heh).

I, for one, hope that he stays. Having caught him at Laguna Seca at a Yamaha promotional event (Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson, Ben Spies, Cal Crutchlow, and Colin Edwards), I can announce myself a fan of his candid, and often wry humor. Him and Cal have pretty good chemistry humor-wise too.

Total votes: 77

I think this is cool for both Melandri and WSBK. It's been really exciting watching him ride on a supported, competitive machine!

Even on the Hayate in 2009, he was still pretty impressive, especially given the fact that he was on a zero-factory-support machine from the year before that even then was remarkably uncompetitive. Definitely the dark horse in the paddock, in my opinion.

As for the rider himself, from what I've seen, he's just got a great character and is a nice, non-trash-talking guy.

Total votes: 63

it's fun to watch. I also enjoyed seeing him on the abandoned Kawi/Hayate and sometimes getting a really good finish.

I like seeing someone that was stuck on an also-ran GP bike come in to WSBK and do well. It's probably my favorite series right now because the racing is good/close much more than it isn't.

Total votes: 66

I found watching Marco struggle to be painful. For someone to have shown his promise to fall that fast was no good. I spoke to a photographer from Italy this past weekend at Laguna who has been around GPs for a long time. He told me he had spoken with Marco a few times over the years and had nothing but good things to say about him. That was good to hear.
I hope he wins the title one of these seasons.

Total votes: 70

as along as manuella's with him, marco's got a ticket to ride...!

Total votes: 62

There is a rumor that WSB will go to a single bike per team rule for 2012. If there is an influx of interesting riders I beleive teams will be able to secure enough fund where that would not be needed.

Also, while previous GP to WSB defectors may have been seen as old and past their prime or just not good enough, Melandri throws a twist in that thought. There are a few good candidates that could really help their careers and WBS at the same time by swapping over. IMO, RdP is on top of that list. John Hopkins, for example, has had a few rough seasons but was young enough to rebuild his career and is working his way back to top equipment. While the CRT teams may be an option, it's pretty well expected for them to be back packers if not lappers. A decent WSB team can see a good rider near enough the front to be well noticed.

Total votes: 50