Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Marco Melandri put aside his racing leathers today replacing them with a smart Dolce & Gabbana suit, as he had an important meeting to go to with the President of Italy! Melandri was one of three current MotoGP riders...
Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Marco Melandri put aside his racing leathers today replacing them with a smart Dolce & Gabbana suit, as he had an important meeting to go to with the President of Italy!
Melandri was one of three current MotoGP riders lucky enough to be invited to attend a short ceremony with Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of the Italian Republic, at the Quirinale Palace in Rome this morning. Organised by the FMI (Italian Federation of Motorcycle Racing), the event was a celebration of Italy's success over the years in motorcycle racing. Italy currently boasts 150 MotoGP and 500cc class Grand Prix victories, making it the joint highest winning country with the USA.
As well as four of the current Italian MotoGP riders - Melandri, Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi and Valentino Rossi, the line-up included past and present Italian motorcycling heroes from both MotoGP and other motorcycle sports such as Giacomo Agostini, Luca Cadalora, PierPaolo Bianchi, Eugenio Lazzarini, Bruno Ruffo, Carlo Rubini, GianMarco Rossi, Giovanni Sala, Alex Puzar, and Yamaha Motocross 125 riders Andrea Bartolini and Alessio Chiodi.
After a brief welcome introduction by FMI Italian representative Paolo Sesti and a speech from the president of the Italian Olympics committee Gianni Petrucci, President Ciampi was then invited to present medals to each rider, as a token for each of their individual contributions to Italian sporting history.
Ciampi spoke of his personal interest in motorcycling as a sport, relating to the surprised group his experiences with bikes in his youth when he was in the military, "I once went too fast on a bike and decided it was better not to ride any more!" he explained to the riders. "Motorcycle racing is very special to me - it is sometimes dangerous and can be scary. It is important for young people to watch and to learn from sports, and from motorcycle racing I think they can see that it is good to be prudent and to respect other people." The 82-year-old then wished the riders good luck and success in their careers.
250cc World Champion Melandri was delighted to have been invited, commenting on the day, "It was great to meet the President! I did not have the chance to speak to him for a long time but I noticed that as soon as he started talking he seemed much younger. It was exciting just to be in the same room as him - I didn't know what to say. I was quite surprised because he seems to know a lot about bikes, he also had a very good sense of humour."
Melandri will stay in his home country for the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello that takes place this Sunday, 8 June.