The Yamaha MotoGP squad enjoyed a successful day at Mugello, with Jorge Lorenzo claiming a flawless victory and local hero Valentino Rossi claiming a hard-fought third place – his sixth consecutive podium.
After a flying start from second on the grid, Lorenzo tucked in behind Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso before moving up from third to lead the way when he crossed the line for the first time. With a clear track ahead of him, Lorenzo put the put the hammer down and pulled away from the chasing pack.
He gradually built a gap and remained untouchable for the rest of the race – his third win at the Mugello circuit in four years.
His team-mate had an equally impressive race. Starting from eighth on the grid, Rossi lost time when he got caught up in the pack and finished the first lap in ninth. He quickly made his way through the field, hunting for Cal Crutchlow riding in sixth and overtaking him on lap eight. It took The Doctor four laps to close down a 2.5s gap to the group battling for second place. He immediately passed Dovizioso for fifth before closing in on Pedrosa, Marquez and Iannone.
Rossi had his mind set on the podium and, having watched Marquez crash out, he was quick to make a move on Pedrosa for third. He pushed hard to close in on Iannone, setting a personal best of 1.48.173, but was unable to catch his compatriot and secured the last podium place, 6.661s from his teammate, accomplishing a third consecutive double podium for Yamaha.
Lorenzo said: “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.”
Lorenzo’s 25 point score adds to his total of 112 points, keeping him in second position in the standings. He is six points behind teammate and championship leader Rossi, whose 16 points put him on 118 points.
It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Repsol Honda riders, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, with Pedrosa finishing in an impressive fourth place while Marc Marquez crashed out.
Starting seventh on the grid, Pedrosa lost a few places, briefly dropping down to ninth on the first lap. Marquez, starting from 13th place – the first time he has not qualified on the first or second row in the premiere class – got off to a lightning start and moved up to sixth in the first few corners and up to fourth by the end of the first lap, with Pedrosa running in 8th.
Pedrosa continued to catch the leading group, passing Cal Crutchlow, Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith to find himself in fifth by lap four. Meanwhile, Jorge Lorenzo opened up a lead at the front as Marquez battled with Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso. By lap twelve Pedrosa had latched on to the battle for second and the four riders swapped positions consistently over the course of the following five laps.
However, on lap eighteen after battling with Iannone, Marquez made a small mistake and crashed out in turn three. This briefly promoted Pedrosa to third before Valentino Rossi passed him and demoted Pedrosa to fourth, where he eventually finished the race.
A downbeat Marquez said: “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.”
Pedrosa was in buoyant mood after scoring valuable points and testing fitness of his arm. He said: “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!”
Tomorrow Marc and Dani will be back on track for a post-race test with the new 2016 tyre supplier, before heading west for round seven in Barcelona in two weeks time.
A massive crowd of close to 91,000 fans saw Marc VDS rider Scott Redding battle to a hard fought 11th place finish in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.
An aggressive first lap from the 22-year-old moved him into the early fight for the top 10 from 17th on the grid, but all of his hard work was undone when he ran wide at the first turn on lap two and dropped down to 19th.
Quickly back into his rhythm, Redding set about charging back towards the top 10 when a lack of rear grip and agility with his Honda RC213V machine through Mugello’s series of fast changes of directions halted his challenge.
Redding crossed the line in 11th place to score points for the fourth time in six races, and he is confident of a stronger top 10 challenge when the 2015 World Championship resumes in Barcelona next month.
He said: “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.”
Team boss Michael Bartholemy acknowledged that the team was under performing. He said: “”It was another very difficult race and we just don’t have the pace that the others in front of us have. Scott got stuck behind the Ducatis and with their speed on the straight here it is very difficult to overtake them. This upsets his rhythm but he was not able to keep a fast pace in the second half of the race. We have to perform better than we are at the moment because, with our equipment, we have to be finishing higher up the order.”
Cal Crutchlow endured a hugely disappointing race at Mugello after crashing out three laps from the end when placed fifth.
The CWM LCR Honda rider defied a hand injury picked up from a fast fall in this morning’s warm-up to produce a brave ride and looked poised for a good points finish.
But having battled front end problems all race, the Briton finally succumbed three laps from the chequered flag and went over at the fast turn eight, sustaining a dislocated ankle for his troubles.
Crutchlow said: “It’s very disappointing. 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.”
Scott Redding will line up 17th on the grid for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. The Marc VDS rider failed to make it through to QP2 automatically and with fast times in QP1 he was unable to challenge for a top two spot and earn a place in the final qualifying shootout.
The 22-year-old had made progress with improving his feeling on the Factory spec RC213V Honda on Friday but with the Factory class riders not being able to use the extra soft tyre, Redding was unable to match the pace of the leaders in the first qualifying session. Traffic was also an issue for Redding during the session. With 16 riders sharing the 5.2km Mugello circuit, all were looking to lap with each other to take advantage of a crucial slipstream, making finding space on the track a real challenge.
A frustrated Redding said: “I don’t know what to say because I went faster with the old tyre than I did on the new tyre and I don’t know why. There was quite a lot of traffic with everyone waiting and that’s really frustrating. Because we don’t have the soft tyre we have to push for the whole lap. The tyre didn’t work as well as I was expecting but even on my last lap, when I was on for a personal best in the first two sectors, Hernandez pulled off the track at the last corner when I was outside him and I nearly hit the back of him. It’s frustrating to be where we are because I was faster on old tyres earlier. You feel like you make steps forward and then you get pushed back again. The race will be different because it’s longer and our race pace isn’t bad but our one lap pace is still a weakness for us at the moment.”
Team boss Michael Bartholemy was equally disappointed. He said: “We had a good day on Friday and this afternoon we were expecting to make an improvement but we didn’t make any at all. It’s a disappointing position to be starting from with the package that we have. I’m not sure of what benefit the softer tyre gives here but, anyway, we should still be third or fourth in this session because 17th is quite far down the grid. We know that other people have the soft tyre advantage in QP1, so we have to accept that this is like it is but, in the end, we should be directly behind them.”
Honda Respol duo Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa struggled during qualifying at Mugello, with the reigning world champion only managing to post the 13th quickest time.
Pedrosa, was the first out on track – taking provisional pole – and was consistently fast and improved on his second run, but with such a small gap separating the riders he was unable to place higher than seventh with his time of 1’46.875, just 0.3 seconds off pole position.
Marquez had a small crash in turn one during FP4 having already missed out on pre-qualifying for Q2 by 0.022 seconds, and had to take part in Q1 where he suffered heavily with rear grip and his time of 1’47.240. His time was not good enough to see him through to Q2, leaving him on the 5th row in 13th for tomorrow’s 23 lap race.
Marquez said: “We can’t be happy about today, because this was the worst qualifying result that we have had in MotoGP. Starting in the morning, we didn’t use the new tyre and that took us into Q, and we had a problem that prevented us from progressing to Q2. Nevertheless, I think we have a good pace for tomorrow, although it is clear that starting from so far back we will suffer a lot. We will try to make a good start and opening few laps to get into the leading group.”
Isle of Man TT record-breaker Ian Hutchinson will line up in the Supersport TT races after sealing a last minute deal with Team Traction Control to campaign their Yamaha R6 as he bids to add to his eight TT victories.
The Bingley Bullet, the first rider to clinch five solo victories at the event in 2010, returns to the Island feeling confident of a strong performance and is aiming to return to the TT podium after missing out through injury in recent years.
Hutchinson said: “It is a privilege to be working with Keith Flint and the team and I know how much they love their racing. I have worked with Grant [Bunting] from TTC before so to be able to have this opportunity to work with them is just what I need.
“I am looking forward to it and as I haven’t ridden the TTC bike before we need to have a good practice week and get a feel for it, but I know the team have the ability from what they have done this season and in the past. We just need to get our heads down and then hopefully my confidence that I have had this year from Superbike and Superstock can cross over into Supersport too. I want to go out and have a good go at it that’s for sure.”
Hutchinson had been set to ride for the Tsingtao MV Agusta squad but the team was forced to withdraw at the 11th hour after it was unable to prepare its machines in time.