Leon Camier out, Marco Melandri back and in at Barni Ducati WorldSBK

Leon Camier loses his Barni Ducati ride and is replaced by Marco Melandri, who returns from retirement to fill the available WorldSBK sear

Marco Melandri - Ducati WorldSBK

Marco Melandri will make a sensational return to the WorldSBK Championship grid just months since announcing his retirement after being called up to replace Leon Camier in the Barni Ducati team.

The Italian exited the sport at the end of the 2019 WorldSBK season citing a lack of motivation to continue competing, but despite a newfound career in off-road cycling, the Italian has just six months to decide on a return with Barni Ducati.

It means when Melandri lines up on the grid in Jerez on 31 July – 2 Aug, he will have effectively only missed a single round. 

Part of the reason for the move is the chance to ride the Ducati Panigale V4 R, which Melandri has long said would suit his riding style and was denied the chance to ride when he was replaced in the factory team by Alvaro Bautista as it was introduced.

“The situation was quite surreal, in normal conditions I never thought I'd come back, then it seemed like fate chose for me. This long and quite period has regenerated me and made me slip away all the negative things I was focusing on before. Going back to the track once it was enough to rediscover all positive feelings that only a bike can give me. 

“Then one by one almost incredible situations lined up: not having had the chance to ride the Ducati Panigale V4 R was a regret and now the opportunity is there, on the Barni Racing Team’s bike there are Showa suspensions and since MotoGP period I always have felt great with those products.  

“It's going to be a championship with only six races, all in Europe on tracks that I like, so it's going to be a limited and time-focused effort. If there was anyone who could convince me to come back it was Marco Barnabò. 

“I think the Barni Racing Team is the right team for me, a “small family” where there is a desire to grow but also to have fun working with passion. I’m aware that I will have a winning bike and the best components."

Unfit Leon Camier forced out of ride

His fortune comes at the expense of British rider Leon Camier, who was forced to part ways with the Italian outfit having failed to make a sufficient recovery from persistent injuries dating back to May 2019, but aggravated again in December 2019.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation for both the team and me. I want to be fair to Barni, he’s a great guy with lots of passion and he believed in me end of last year despite me coming back from injury. Like a bad twist of fate I again picked up a shoulder injury – not the same as last year but a different issue – crashing on the Ducati last year during testing in Aragon. 

“Barni stuck with me 100% and in Phillip Island he never put pressure on me to ride and put my health as a first priority when it was too early to come back. During the off time due to the Covid-19 situation I gave the shoulder the rest it needed and as always in close consultation with my doctors I re-started training and got my body fitness at the highest level again. I didn’t really feel the shoulder anymore, also rode supermotard without any problem. But at the Misano test end of June again I started to feel the shoulder.

“According to the medical experts, the situation now is different than before, there seems no structural problem like last year. I am continuing doing tests and it seems just a nerve or muscle is trapped and it is expected it can be solved by dedicated physiotherapy. 

“My doctor is confident that all can be fine for Jerez but I can understand it’s difficult for the team and their sponsors to again have trust in a medical opinion while in the last 7 months the prediction wasn’t accurate. We have found a mutual agreement for a settlement that gives the team the opportunity to enter a replacement rider and me the opportunity to focus on a full recovery without the time pressure of a next upcoming test or race. How unfortunate it may be, injuries are part of our sport, I wish Barni and the guys all the best. For me it’s time to get fully fit again.”