Marco Melandri secured two podiums at Portimao's WorldSBK round last weekend with a third place on Sunday to add to his runner-up spot on Saturday.
Using up too much of his front tyre to challenge for the win on Sunday after coming through the pack, and then being involved in a real fight with his team-mate Chaz Davies - and then a mystery partner - Melandri was riding on a knife edge.
“I was losing some tenths each time so you have to push more and more on the tyre and in the end of race two it was so difficult with the front,” Said Melandri. “And I did not know that van der Mark was right behind us when I was fighting with Chaz. I never see the pit board because I never have time.
"When I passed Chaz and we went wide, I expected Chaz to cross the line but when I saw a blue bike, I said, ‘What’s going on?!’ For van der Mark it was easy because were outside, so he just made his line. I saw that he was riding fast this morning and yesterday he rode well, so I know he is growing up.
“In corner three and corner eight I was losing a lot and in some other areas I was coming back well, but it was not enough to try to pass. I was arriving close to him but in the last two or three laps I understood that there was no chance for me, and also in the last corner van der Mark was so fast.”
Tyre wear is always more difficult to control on the front than the rear, but Portimao exacerbates this problem, according to Melandri. “The front is always more unpredictable. I think for everybody, sometimes I see people losing the front, moving and losing the line. This track is very bumpy and you stay on the angle a lot of times. So when the front drops down it is so difficult to ride.”
With still no news on where he will be riding in 2019, Melandri signed off his backstage press conference by saying, “I am going to drive Johnny’s motorhome!”