The picturesque setting of the Tuscan hills played host to a spectacular MotoGP race at the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM. With the sun shining and track temperatures at the Autodromo del Mugello hitting 50 degrees, the Italian fans were treated to a dominant performance from Jorge Lorenzo as he stormed away to the win the race by over 5.5s.
As Lorenzo disappeared off into the distance, the real battle would be for second place. This fight was originally between the two Factory Ducati’s of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, and the Repsol Honda’s of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, although Valentino Rossi would join in the fun before the end of the race.
Marquez had enjoyed an amazing start, moving up from 13th on the grid into sixth at the very first corner. In contrast, Valentino Rossi suffered a disastrous opening lap that would see him down drop down to tenth, before mounting an incredible charge through the field to join the podium fight with eight laps to go.
There was even more drama to come though, as Dovizioso was forced to retire due to rear end chatter issues.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – DNF – “Today went wrong right from the start with my mistake in this morning’s warm-up. I got a good start in the race and I was in amongst the frontrunners but I had to retire because my GP15 had a problem with excessive wear of the rear sprocket. It was a real pity, because I reckon I could have fought for the podium, and seeing as we were at Mugello, I was really banking on doing so. But above all I didn’t score any points for the championship, which for me is the most important thing.”
Then Marc Marquez, who was once more involved in an excellent scrap with Iannone for second, crashed out of the race leaving Iannone to claim second ahead of the inspired Rossi in third.
Marc Marquez DNF – “It was a shame about the crash today, because I had already done the hardest part! I’m happy because I was able to carry out our plan, which was to try to recover positions on the first five laps. We were up into second place after four laps, but when the tyre grip went down we had a similar problem to before, with the tyre sliding on corner entry. I was on the limit and when you are pushing at the maximum sometimes things happen like they did today. We have dropped quite far behind in the standings, but Honda are working hard and together we will keep pushing to improve the feeling with the bike for the second half of the season.”
It was Lorenzo’s third victory in a row and he has now closed the gap to Rossi at the top of the World Championship standings to six points. After a start to the season plagued with troubles, the Spaniard has responded brilliantly to answer any critics.
Jorge Lorenzo – 1st / 41’39.173 / 23 laps – “I’m very happy, because I didn’t expect to escape with such a big margin, but sometimes it happens that you feel great on the bike. Today the track was not so quick so everyone has been a bit slower than we expected. I was the only rider to ride multiple 1’47s, so luckily for me I was gaining six or seven-tenths per lap, this was key to the win of the race. If someone would have told me before Jerez that I would win three races in a row I wouldn’t have believed it, but this is what happened. We are in a great shape; Valentino is getting podiums in every race so that means he is strong and also the bike is working really well. It seems that this year could be our year, so we have to take advantage of it. It was a different situation when I was twenty-nine points behind than now when it’s down to six, but even like that it’s difficult to close in on Valentino in points because he is always on the podium. Today Iannone stayed in front of him so it’s four points more and as I said six points difference is much better than twenty-nine, but we can’t relax and neither can Yamaha. Our competitors are working really hard to fix the problems they seem to have with the stability of their bikes and they will arrive at a point that they will win races, but until then we need to make the most of our potential to improve the bike little by little.”
Iannone claimed his second podium of the season as he rode through the pain after fracturing his humerus at a testing crash in Mugello before the French GP. The Italian delighted his home fans by putting the GP15 on the podium after getting the better of Marquez and holding off Rossi, and has not finished outside the top six this season.
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 2nd – “I am so pleased with today’s result: it was incredible, because today it was not easy to score a podium finish. My team did a great job, the bike worked really well and the Clinica Mobile gave me a big hand throughout the weekend. This GP15 is a really great bike, and I was able to administer the race really well. At the start I wanted to try and stay with Jorge: he didn’t have a better pace than me, but he did manage to keep that pace by taking fewer risks. When I realized that I was pushing too hard, I tried to maintain my speed, do my own race and keep one eye on my shoulder, which from mid-race onwards was showing signs of tiredness. I want to thank everyone because this is the result of great team-work and is something that we have built up together.”
Rossi showed all of his class to work his way back from tenth on the first lap to claim third, and remain the leader in the championship standings. The Italian once again saved his best for the race after having to start from eighth on the grid, and has a six-point lead over Lorenzo in the World Championship standings having not finished off the podium yet in 2015.
Valentino Rossi – 3rd / +6.661s / 23 laps – “Mugello was very busy, because I am very competitive and all the Italian fans expected a great race from me. It’s a bit of a shame that it wasn’t a fantastic race. I wasn’t strong enough but at the end of the race I arrived on the podium after a great recovery and a hard race. To be on the podium with whole the crowd is always magical with the track being full of people. I’ve been suffering the whole weekend, I was never strong and didn’t achieve a good level of speed. In the race I also suffered a lot, especially on the first lap. I think we have to improve, especially with Jorge being very strong, he is in a great shape and to match his level we need to be more competitive.”
Dani Pedrosa rode a solid race to claim fourth, just over three seconds behind Rossi, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith the leading Satellite rider in fifth, benefitting from Cal Crutchlow’s crash with just three laps remaining.
Dani Pedrosa P4 – “I’m happy overall, especially because my forearm is getting better all the time. Today I had a fairly good race, right through to the end. I was able to fight with some other riders and confirm that every week I’m getting better. It has been positive. Now we have to work on the bike to try to develop it and get better results at the coming races!”
Bradley Smith – 5th / +15.284s / 23 laps – “I’m really pleased to close this weekend with a 5th place finish after a superb race that was a real pleasure to ride! Although my qualifying position was not fantastic, it spurred me on to get a good start, which is exactly what I did and then to come home with 5th is great for me, the team and the championship standings. I had fun battling with Cal and I really gave it my all, plus the bike was strong today, even though there are a few things that we need to address in the coming weeks. One of these was the handling of the bike in the beginning of the race, yet, there’s not a lot we can do with the setting to close the gap in the opening laps. I am sure Yamaha understands where we are struggling and I’m convinced they will do their very best to assist us in solving this in the future. Still, the bike is working really well at every track we have visited so far so I look forward to the next race in Barcelona, which is almost a home race for me because I live quite close by!”
Cal Crutchlow #35 (DNF) – “It’s very disappointing for the whole CWM LCR Honda team. We had what I thought was a good weekend up until the race. This morning I had a very heavy crash in the warm-up and had a big impact on my hand, so I thought it was a good showing to be racing in the position that I was. We had the 38 front tyre which meant steering the bike was not easy, but overall we were not so far off the factory guys and with the right setting I think we could have been higher. Unfortunately the front tyre failed me in the end and just tucked under at a very fast corner. My foot got caught in the back of the bike and dislocated my ankle so I’m in a lot of pain and we’ll have to monitor the situation but I’ve had good treatment. Obviously I’m really disappointed because it was a good race and a good showing and Honda are working very hard for us to improve so we need to come back stronger in Barcelona hopefully.”
Smith’s teammate Pol Espargaro was next across the line in sixth, while Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), wild card Michele Pirro (Ducati Team), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) and Yonny Hernandez completed the top ten.
Pol Espargaro – 6th / +15.665s / 23 laps – “After the recent surgery and two weeks without training, this was the optimum that we could obtain, even though it is not an incredible result, as we are behind our team mate. Still, in normal conditions I think we could have been stronger as I suffered a lot with the changes of direction and I could hardly move the bike. Nevertheless, we were right behind Cal and Bradley and I even managed to come back on them during the closing stages of the race when I was really tired. Therefore I think there are plenty of positives to take from today. Now we have to keep working as Montmelo, which is my home race is coming next and I’m highly motivated to score a strong result there, so we have to be physically prepared.”
Maverick Viñales P7 – “This race is my best result of the season and I can’t help being satisfied. I’m happy not only for the race but also for the entire weekend: I entered Q2 immediately and I constantly improved my feeling and therefore my lap-times. For sure we have found a much better set-up which can give me more confidence and therefore making me faster. The race was pretty tough because I had to pass the middle pack of riders, since we have a certain lack-of-power I need to overtake in the handling part of the track where we are strong, so I need some laps to study my opponent and find the best place where to attempt to overtake. According to this new set-up, if we manage to get some more power, I’m confident we can aim for fifth or sixth: It would be amazing to take a good result next time out in Barcelona in front of my home fans.”
Michele Pirro (Ducati Team #51) – 8th – “I am satisfied with the way my Italian GP went, but I’m sorry for Dovizioso’s retirement and congratulations to Iannone for getting a podium finish. As for me, it was a really emotional weekend: I was fourth yesterday morning, I was on the second row of the grid with sixth quickest time, and in the end I finished in eighth place. My aim was to finish less than 30 seconds down on the winner and I managed to do so, so I’d like to thank Ducati, the guys in the test team and everyone working back in the factory. We have gathered some useful indications, and so I hope to be able to do better in the next race because we have a lot of potential”.
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding again struggled, finishing down in eleventh.
Scott Redding: 11th – “I’m disappointed because the race obviously didn’t pan out as I’d expected. After the Warm-Up I thought I could be fighting for the top 10 and I made a good start and made up some places on the first lap. But on lap two I went deep into the first corner and lost all the places I’d gained. I couldn’t get the rear tyre to work at the beginning to go with the group in front. And the track was quite greasy and the bike felt heavy and I was struggling to change direction. I need to improve but we will continue working hard and sticking together to help me be more competitive.”
Loris Baz took his first Open class victory for his Athina Forward Racing team, as he crossed the line in 12th ahead of Hector Barbera, Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard’s 14th place finish his best performance this season, earning another two championship points for himself and for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.
Loris Baz – 12th / +42.158s / 23 laps – “I’m really pleased with the epilogue of this race. I knew I would have suffered in terms of speed, but I had a good pace. I started well, I immediately closed the gap with the other Open bikes and I kept my pace. With ten laps to go I started to have some tire problems and I had to slow down a little to make it to the finish. I’m happy at the end of last season I did not have a bike but Giovanni and the team believed in me, we worked hard and this is the best way to repay their commitment”.
Alvaro Bautista P14 – “Throughout the weekend we worked on improving the situation going in and coming out of turns, also taking a few small steps forward. To be honest I expected to lap a half a second faster, but the conditions slowed me down a bit, probably because of the track that had changed, with less grip on the tarmac compared to the practice sessions. So I tried to maintain the most consistent pace possible and in the end we made our best placing of the season, right here in the team’s Home Grand Prix. I’m pleased even if it is clear that there is still much work to be done. In any case I would like to thank the entire team, Aprilia, our sponsors and also all the fans that came out to support us and now we’ll be trying to take some steps forward for the next round in Barcelona.”
Eugene Laverty claimed the last championship point on offer for 15th.
Eugene Laverty P15 – “Both at Le Mans and here we experienced difficult weekends, however these are the only two races at which I have scored points. It’s a strange feeling; on one hand I am unhappy with my feeling with the bike, but on the other we scored points. Being realistic, I finished ten seconds behind where I should be. In the first two parts of the race we were able to keep a steady pace, however, in the last third the bike became difficult to ride. We are working in the right way, but we must persevere to find a more balanced bike setup that allows me to ride an entire race smoothly. On chicanes and areas where I need the bike to flow, I have to put a lot of weight on the front in order to corner. My strength is braking but we have to sacrifice this in order to corner better. I hope to gradually gain experience and find a more balanced setup.”
Marco Melandri P18 – “It wasn’t easy to ride because I continued to have various setup problems so I had a difficult race. Aprilia made a big effort bringing various technical innovations here, including the seamless gearbox that works well, but now I need some chassis changes that can help me.”
Having started from the ninth row, Jack Miller made a good start at the team’s home track. However, Miller was hampered by front end problems from the off which ultimately proved his downfall as he slid out at the final corner of the circuit after just two laps. That meant the Australian failed to finish for the second race in succession, but he remains upbeat about the rest of the season and believes there is plenty of potential to improve.
Jack Miller #43 (DNF) – “It was a rubbish race to be honest. I had an awesome start and was going good, but already by the second lap I was having moments with the front. Where Cal unfortunately fell off, I was also close to losing it and Nicky (Hayden) slipped by. I got back past him, but then I had another moment and then it was moment after moment until I couldn’t hold it up anymore. When I got to the final corner the front just went on me and it was beyond recovery. It was really hard here, especially with the front of the bike. I’m still positive, we’re still in good shape. We’ve shown we’ve got the speed, it’s just getting more comfortable on this thing. We seem to be really struggling with the front end, but it’s not only us, there are other guys out there too struggling with it. We’re working on it, it’s only the last couple of races that haven’t been good to us and we need to just focus on getting better and better.”
Aleix Espargarò fought back the pain in his right hand for the whole weekend, but finally ended his race in the gravel due to a crash caused by another rider. Luckily his injured hand didn’t suffer any further damage, but his race ended at the very beginning, preventing him from exploiting all the positive work he did over the weekend.
Aleix Espargarò DNF – “There is nothing good to say: it was the very beginning of the race when I got hit. It’s a pity, Petrucci made a mistake and prevented me to continue my race. I struggled with pain for the whole weekend but we found a good set-up. Also in this morning’s warm-up I felt confident in making more laps with less pain and I was really positive for the race. We’re having some bad luck lately, but I hope this will turn into positive luck in Barcelona in a couple of weeks. I will be at home and I definitely wish for a positive result there, not only for me, but also for the team and the factory who are really supporting me.”
Stefan Bradl – DNF / +20 laps – “Unfortunately my race ended earlier than expected. I started well, I was fighting for victory in the Open with Hayden, when I heard a bump from behind and found myself on the ground with him without being able to do anything to avoid collision. I do not know exactly what happened, but it’s really a shame because we have proven to be consistent this weekend and the head of the Open was within our reach.”
Nicky Hayden (DNF) – “It was a shame about the crash today. We had begun the race well and the feeling with the bike was optimal. The start was very hectic, with many riders overtaking on every corner, and then on the fourth lap I went down. I was very close to Bradl when his bike skidded a few metres from me and I collided with him. I was accelerating and I could not avoid it; it was a racing incident. Before the race we made a small modification to the front and it was very productive. We knew the temperature was going to be higher than the rest of the weekend, so I started cautiously, trying to understand the grip level of the front end. I feel bad about finishing the weekend like this, because we had a good pace -even this morning on old tyres- and I was sure we would get a positive result here in Mugello. Fortunately I emerged unscathed from the crash, so now we must move on and think about the next race.”
Tito Rabat marks 150th Grand Prix start with victory
Round six of the Moto2 World Championship began as a very Swiss affair, as Thomas Luthi and Dominique Aegerter both started strongly as soon as the lights went out. Luthi’s lead would not last long as the Le Mans winner suffered a crash as he pushed to increase the gap over Aegerter. Luthi was unhurt, saying after the race that scoring zero points hurt more than the crash itself.
Mugello has seen Dominique Aegerter return to his 2014 form as he and the team begin to fully understand the Kalex after racing the Suter for multiple seasons. Aegerter’s riding style of high corner entry speed and low mid corner speed makes him very difficult to pass, but Rabat did eventually manage it. From here the 2014 Moto2 champion attempted to push and expand his lead as best he could.
The excitement continued to the last lap as Johann Zarco, who qualified in sixth, made a late charge. Rabat had been able to maintain the gap between he and the Frenchman at over half a second in the latter stages of the race as Aegerter’s challenge faded. However, the ever-determined Zarco set a 1’52.685 on the final lap, Zarco’s personal best time of the race. A gap of just 0.308s split the Kalex pair as they finally crossed the line.
Rabat’s victory is his first since Misano last season as he has struggled with front-end feel. The Spaniard moves to second in the championship with 78 points but is still 31 points behind Zarco, more than a race win worth of points. Third was a welcome return to the podium for Aegerter, who surprised even himself.
Tito Rabat: Race Winner – “I am very happy to finally get a win this season, as it’s taken some hard work from both me and the team to get to this point. Every race we have improved and now we can win again, so big thanks to my crew, who have worked tirelessly to put us back on the top step of the podium. It was a tough race as I was having a few problems with the front in the last laps, but I knew I had enough left to hold off Zarco at the end.”
Sam Lowes had displayed solid pace earlier in the weekend but was forced wide after contacting Simone Corsi at Turn one and had to settle for fourth. Corsi fell as a result, but was uninjured. Jonas Folger also fell while in podium contention, since claiming his second victory of the season in Jerez Folger has failed to score points.
After two crashes in Jerez and Le Mans, Alex Rins was only able to manage 11th at Mugello having struggled all weekend.
Alex Marquez still continues to struggle as the Moto3 World Champion adapts to Moto2 but brought home another couple of points in 12th place – “Today I didn’t make a good start, I fell to the back of the field at the first corner, and I tried to recover but with so many riders in front of me I lost a lot of time. When I did fight my way through then Morbidelli and Rins touched and Morbidelli went down in front of me, losing me a lot of time. I recovered that time again and that’s positive for me but I had a lot of problems with the bike after I touched Kallio and we need to check what happened. But, overall, my rhythm wasn’t bad. I need a better result for the team and myself but we’ll keep going and improve step by step.”
Anthony West was 19th and clearly dissatisfied with the weekend –“There is not much I can say. I am disappointed with the whole weekend and in myself, because I wasn’t able to go fast. Here on this track I don’t know what it is: Every time I come here, I can’t go fast, I am really slow and I am disappointed that I can’t do anything to fix it. I don’t know what it is, maybe a mental block, because I can’t get it together here on this track. I am not really happy with the result and I hope we can do better in Barcelona!”
Miguel Oliveira makes history as first Portuguese GP winner
It was a frantic 16 rider battle for the majority of the Moto3 race, with riders frequently heading into Turn 1 four or more abreast. The slipstream saw them able to jump from ninth to first down the straight, and kept a multitude of riders in the leading pack. Both Romano Fenati and Danny Kent led the race on multiple occasions, despite being outside the top ten just a lap before.
One would not have expected victory from Oliveira at the start of the race as he found himself in 13th on the opening laps. However, the slipstream and fierce fighting at the front allowed him to close the gap. Oliveira led for the majority of the final laps and even into the last corner, a risky move at Mugello where the slipstream can be so beneficial. Despite this, he claimed victory by 0.071s and is the first Portuguese rider to win at any level in GP racing.
Throughout the race, Danny Kent bounced around in the leading group, dropping outside the top ten on multiple occasions. Kent demonstrated his maturity as he rode a careful race to avoid the risk of contact with any over eager riders and put in a strong closing lap to secure the podium. This is Kent’s fifth podium of the year and extends his championship lead to 46 points over Bastianini, who was fifth.
Completing the podium was Romano Fenati, resplendent in the colours of the Italian flag in a special livery for his KTM machine. The home rider led at the early stages but echoed Kent as he too dropped down the order before bouncing back, which unfortunately caused increased wear in his Dunlop tyres. Just 0.003s split Fenati in third from former teammate Francesco Bagnaia in fourth in what was a classic Mugello slipstream finish.
Hiroki Ono had started in second and led into Turn 1 on the opening lap, but unfortunately, the Japanese rider did not have the pace to stay with the leaders over the course of the race. He would eventually finish in 11th, equalling his best finish of the 2015 season.
Mugello was another disappointing round for Fabio Quartararo, the rookie falling while in the leading pack. He now drops to seventh in the championship. There were also falls from Vazquez and Hanika on the last lap, the duo both OK. Juanfran Guevara aggravated his collarbone injury sustained in Jerez, as he too fell from the race.
Australia’s sole entrant in the class, young Remy Gardner, finished 23rd – “I’m little disappointed because another incident during first lap has prevented me to fight for the points. I’ve started well but someone touched me when I was in 20th position. After this incident I lost more than ten places and saw that my fairing was broken. It’s been not so easy to finish the race in that condition but there was nothing else to do”.
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