Current GRT Yamaha WorldSBK rider Marco Melandri will retire from motorcycle racing at the conclusion of the 2019 WorldSBK Championship season, bringing to an end an international career that has spanned three decades of competition.
“The decision to retire was a very difficult one for me to make,” Melandri said. “I’d been thinking about it for some time and, before the Imola race, I finally decided to call it a day at the end of the 2019 season. I’m still competitive and I think it’s better to stop at this point, while I still enjoy racing, rather than waiting until the enjoyment and the results are more difficult to achieve.”
Melandri’s career started off in meteoric fashion, when, as a 15-year-old, he took victory in the 1998 Dutch 125cc Grand Prix at Assen, becoming the youngest ever winner of a Grand Prix at the time. It was a record that stood for 10 years until Scott Redding broke it at the 2008 British 125cc Grand Prix.
Melandri finished runner-up to Emilio Alzamora in the 1999 125cc World Championship by a single point and then graduated to the 250cc category, winning the championship in 2002. He moved to MotoGP for 2003, ultimately scoring a best championship position of second to Valentino Rossi in 2005, riding for the Fortuna Honda squad.
Melandri would move to the WorldSBK Championship in 2011 with the factory Yamaha team, finishing second overall with four race wins. He has since competed in WorldSBK for BMW, Aprilia, and Ducati, scoring wins with each manufacturer. To date, his WorldSBK career card reads 75 podium finishes with 22 race wins, making him one of the most successful riders on the WorldSBK currently competing.
“Since making the decision I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders and now that everyone knows this is my final year, I’m even more motivated to push for good results in the final few races, Melandri said. “In part, it’s for me, as I’d like to go out on a high, but it’s also to repay the faith that both Yamaha and the GRT Yamaha team have shown in me.”
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