Marco Melandri says he is thoroughly enjoying life as an underdog privateer with the Hayate Racing team.
The recently formed Hayate squad took over the running of the former factory Kawasaki when the works team pulled out. Melandri was hesitant about committing to the project at first, but went on to finish a superb sixth at Motegi and an even better fifth at Catalunya. He said such results had given him a new lease of life after his abject season on the second factory Ducati last year. The Italian had signed to join Kawasaki for 2009 shortly before the Japanese squad made its early exit.
"It's a good time for me actually," Melandri said. "The last race at Jerez was wonderful. I didn't expect to get the same result as Motegi, but I got a good start and the bike was working well.
"All the team is very focused on our goals. I'm pretty happy and I just want to do my best every day. 2008 was awful for me and now I don't have any big expectations, because we didn't have to be here, but now I'm here and the feeling with the bike is good. I know it's going to be tough to improve the bike and the results, but I feel confident in myself and the team, and I'll just do 100 per cent."
Hayate will not be able to develop its bike this year, but Melandri insists he is not concerned about this.
"We are a private team right now so we will not get any improvements," he said. "But we don't have many tests after the races, so we can work on set-up a little bit more. We can improve the bike a little bit, and the goal now is to close the gap between us and the podium. I know it's going to be hard to be fifth or sixth every Sunday."