Marquez leads by 36 points as MotoGP hits Mugello
While Marquez left the French GP in the lead, it’s still early in the season with only 10-points between second through sixth. Maverick Vinales and Johann Zarco are separated by a single point in second and third, while Aussie Jack Miller is sixth in the standings on 49 points.
“It’s good to go to Mugello with an advantage in the Championship, but we’re still in the early phase of the season and everything is very tight, so we must keep our feet well on the ground. We had a test at Mugello before the French GP and were able to be fast and very consistent. That’s good of course, but you always have to wait and see what situation you’re in when you start working for the race. There are always question marks regarding tyres, setup, temperatures, and so on. For instance, conditions will probably be warmer this weekend compared to when we tested, so we’ll just keep concentrating to try and manage well the usual ups and downs of preparing for a race.”
For the likes of Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Ducati and Aprilia, there really is no place like home. Meanwhile for Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has three wins in a row for for the first time since 2014, though Mugello has more often been a hurdle for Marquez rather than a talisman venue. Last year, he was sixth.
His 2017 title rival Andrea Dovizioso will be banking on that. Not only did ‘DesmoDovi’ get collected in the three-rider collision in Spain, he then also crashed out in Le Mans – from the lead. That leaves him well down the order but the season is long and the Italian made history at Mugello last year as he took the first premier class win for an Italian on an Italian bike in Italy since 1974.
It was a stunner and it kicked his campaign into gear, but that first win doesn’t overshadow two of the men with whom Dovizioso shares the grid, both of whom have impeccable records at Mugello.
One of those is Jorge Lorenzo, his teammate. Winner from 2011 to 2016 every year with the sole exception of 2014, Mugello really has been Lorenzo’s land. And after leading in Jerez and again in Le Mans, the number 99’s season is looking up – as is Valentino Rossi’s (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), the other CV of note.
Rossi was back on the podium in France for the first time since Qatar and although the Italian said the venue was an especially good one for the M1, that’s a good boost ahead of Mugello – where Rossi was king from 2004 to 2008 and has seven wins at the track. And as much as the crowd show awesome support for many home riders and manufacturers, there’s no one quite like the ‘Doctor’ for Mugello. The air is heavy with yellow haze when Rossi is in town; the fans like nowhere on Earth and the stands packed with 46-emblazoned merchandise.
It was Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales who got the podium last year, however, coming home second and putting in an impressive performance on the Yamaha for the first time at the venue. He was, however, slightly upstaged by the man in third, Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), who took the Independent Team not only to the podium but to the podium at home in Italy – something that left them somewhat speechless in the aftermath. Petrucci is fresh from the rostrum in France, too, and looking to add to his CV.
That enough contenders yet? There are even more. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) has won at Mugello while Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) should be better recovered from his Q1 highside in Le Mans.
“After a full week of rest following the Catalunya test, I’m really looking forward to going to race at Mugello. It’s a nice track that I like. It’s very fast, with many chicanes, and you must work hard to find a good setup because it’s particularly important to have a good feeling with the bike in all the corner entries. We had a test at Mugello at the beginning of May, so we’ll see if we’re able to start well beginning in FP1. I have a great relationship with Italy and Italian fans!”
Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) needs to bounce back after taking pole at home and then crashing out – the fate also suffered by Andrea Iannone on race day, who has a point to prove and has been on pole at Mugello as well as winning in the intermediate class there twice.
“Mugello is a fast and very nice track. Last year I was struggling there, but this season I control the bike much better and overall, after that bad Sunday in Le Mans I want to get back to good results and many points in the championship, which is very important. I think I learned a lot in Le Mans, even with the crash, so I arrive in Italy with high motivation and happiness because also the test we did in Barcelona was pretty good and I think we have great opportunities to manage the bike in order to fight with the top guys for the podium.”
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will want to be top rookie on home turf, and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini are racing at home, too – looking to add some more good points after a top ten for Aleix Espargaro in France.
“The next two GP races are very important for me and for Aprilia. Mugello is the team’s home race and then we will go to Barcelona. I have trained hard to prepare for these two races. We need to stay one hundred percent focused. These are two extremely fast tracks where will we need all the power we have. We have prepared for the races with a test session on each of the two circuits and my goal is to keep growing, always giving it my all.”
Australian Jack Miller is sixth in the standings, with 49 championship points, leaving him in a strong position heading to Mugello.
It’s time for round six in the Tuscan hills, and time for Mugello to welcome its prodigal sons back home – with home glory, 25 points and 2018 momentum up for grabs on race day, this one will be a showstopper.
Michelin Tyres Options
Michelin’s tyres to cope with the requirements of the 5.245m Mugello circuit are soft, medium and hard compounds for both the front and rear and will be ideally matched to manage the vigorous work-out that all tyres will need to undertake at the Italian Grand Prix. The front Michelin Power Slicks will all be symmetrical in design, as will the rear soft, whilst the medium and hard rears will have a harder right hand shoulder designed to give an increased all-round performance which that side of the tyre needs due to the extra turns in that direction.
The mountainous hills of Tuscany loom over the track like some kind of stone spectators, but these rocky formations can also bring wet weather to the track and Michelin will have the Michelin Power Rain tyres in soft and medium compounds for the front and rear available should any precipitation arrive. The two rear rain tyres will have an asymmetric design, featuring a hard right shoulder, with both of the fronts symmetric.
MotoGP Championship Standings
- Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 95
- Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 59
- Johann ZARCO Yamaha FRA 58
- Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 56
- Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 54
- Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 49
- Andrea IANNONE Suzuki ITA 47
- Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 46
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 46
- Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 29
- Tito RABAT Ducati SPA 24
- Alex RINS Suzuki SPA 22
- Pol ESPARGARO KTM SPA 18
- Jorge LORENZO Ducati SPA 16
- Franco MORBIDELLI Honda ITA 16
- Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia SPA 13
- Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha MAL 13
- Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati SPA 12
- Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda JPN 10
- Mika KALLIO KTM FIN 6
- Scott REDDING Aprilia GBR 5
- Bradley SMITH KTM GBR 5
- Karel ABRAHAM Ducati CZE 1
Last time out at Le Mans it was a duel at the front once more – with Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) escaping the field before Bagnaia was able to pull away for another stunning win.
Now it’s time for the very different Mugello, a haven of speed in the Tuscan hills – home turf for the Italian. That will be a special kind of motivation on Sunday, the kind that goes beyond the normal will to win – and Marquez will know that, and know the value of winning in ‘enemy’ territory.
In Spanish GP, it was Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) who did that and took the spoils with his first win of the year – and first since 2016 – but he’s now the one needing to bounce back after crashing out in France. Although friends with Bagnaia off track, one will surely do everything to defeat the other on track and on home turf – as well as whoever else gets in his way.
The man chasing Championship leader Bagnaia could have something to say about that, however. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira is, despite some tougher races so far, second in the standings and looking for his first win of the year after ending 2017 with three on the bounce. His teammate Brad Binder has some serious pace, too, and KTM will want to hit back against Kalex.
Then there’s Xavi Vierge fresh from his stunning ride through the field in France, with the Spaniard forced to start from the back after a technical problem and then rounding out the top five. With the pace to do that from the back, what could Vierge do starting from the front?
The headline act at Mugello, however, is veteran Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team). He may have only had one podium this season so far, but that podium was a win as he took the Argentina GP in style. And last year? Pasini put on an incredible show at Mugello, fighting it out from the first lap to the last to take his first win since 2009. That year, he also won at the track in the 250 World Championship and in 2006, he did it on a 125. The field could have their hands full through ‘Casanova’ and ‘Savelli’ once again.
- Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) KALEX 98 points
- Miguel Oliveira (POR) KTM 73
- Alex Marquez (SPA) KALEX 67
- Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) KALEX 64
- Mattia Pasini (ITA) KALEX 58
Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrüstelGP) had a heartbreaker of an end to the French GP after the Italian highsided out at the final corner on the final lap, but in a strange twist of fate, what happened afterwards means he still heads to Mugello as the points leader – because the crash also collected key rival Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3). Bezzecchi will be gunning for nothing but glory on home turf, and Martin has some scores to settle with lady luck.
The drama wasn’t done there in France, either, as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), who crossed the line first, was given a penalty and it became an Angel Nieto Team 1-2 for Albert Arenas and Andrea Migno, and Arenas’ first win. Speaking of first wins, that’s what Mugello was for Migno last season after a spectacular race that saw more than 20 riders fighting for it – so the Angel Nieto Team will be very high on confidence heading into the weekend.
Di Giannantonio now wants what he thought he had at Le Mans, Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) needs big points and to bounce back, Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) will want to be top rookie at the very least – and the long straight at Mugello means it will be a true classic once more, with neither those riding at home nor those in enemy territory able to escape the slipstream.
Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) may just about have come back down to earth after his stunning save but there’s no need to at Mugello, with the Moto3 race always out of this world.
- Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) KTM 63 points
- Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA) HONDA 59
- Aron Canet (SPA) HONDA 56
- Jorge Martin (SPA) HONDA 55
- Andrea Migno (ITA) KTM 45