Marco Melandri was born on August 7th 1982 in Ravenna (Italy) and like many other racers, began his racing career in minibikes, winning the Italian title in two seasons: 1992 and 1994. He then switched to one-make racing, winning the Honda trophy in 1996 and this triumph took him into the Italian 125cc Championship which he won on his debut in 1997. In the same year Marco also took part in the European championship and made his debut in the 125cc world championship at Brno as replacement for an injured rider. In 1998 Melandri competed in the 125cc world championship on a regular basis in a factory team, winning two races (Assen and Brno) in his debut season and finishing third overall in the final standings. He was again competitive in 1999, winning five grands prix and finishing runner-up, but he could have won the title had he not missed the opening two rounds of the championship because of an injury.
The 2000 season saw Melandri race in 250cc, where he finished fifth overall, and this result was followed by a third place the following year. Marco was now truly ready for championship success and in fact in 2002 he was crowned 250cc world champion after dominating the season and winning nine races.
Melandri moved up into the MotoGP class, but a series of crashes and retirements in the first two years forced him to miss some rounds and he could only finish 15th overall in 2003 and 13th in 2004. Marco joined Gresini’s team the following year and proved to be remarkably successful, taking the runner-up slot in the world championship following two wins at Istanbul and Valencia.