His team-mate Chaz Davies was also on course for a top position, but for him the qualifying practice came to an early end when he crashed 15 minutes into the session and was classified 13th.
The day started with rain and during the first free practice at noon, both Melandri and Davies did not risk too much in the wet conditions and used the session to gather information. The former MotoGP racer returned to the garage after three laps and Davies completed seven laps in the rain. In the afternoon, the sun came out and the surface dried for qualifying practice. However, the riders needed to be patient before they could go out on the track again as a delay in the schedule meant that the first qualifying practice began one and a half hours later than planned with parts of the circuit still damp.
But the Italian appeared unfazed by the changing weather conditions, and is relishing his moment at the tip of the time-sheets, and hopes his hard work pays off during Superpole on Sunday, and the main event on at the end of the week.
“It is great to be back at the top. Today I had such a good feeling on the bike which I haven't had for a long time, I am so happy. In the team, we are doing such a great job and I think we now really understand what went wrong at the beginning of the season. We struggled with the front part of the bike, it was not absorbing the bumps and it was difficult to turn, now this is much better,” said Melandri
“Of course, we still don't have the perfect set-up, because 30 minutes track time in the dry is not enough. But we are starting from a good base and that means that we can fight for a good position at the end of the weekend. Now we just need to try to keep working and to set the RR up for the race distance and Superpole tomorrow which is also important. The weather forecast looks good for Saturday and Sunday so we will have time to further improve the bike.”
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