Mugello

MotoGP – Dovizioso gifts Ducati ‘dream win’ at Mugello

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Italian rider, Italian bike, Italian GP…and the tricolore flew high over the podium at Mugello, as Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso took a magnificent win battling rivals on track and illness off it to cross the line over a second clear of  Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales  and an impressive home podium for second Italian Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac Ducati.

Home hero Valentino Rossi shot off the line for the lead from P2 on the grid, denying teammate and polesitter Viñales as Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo stormed up from seventh to fight off Dovizioso for third.

With the leaders in-line, Lorenzo used the incredible speed of the Ducati to take the lead for the first time in red, dueling with old nemesis Rossi before the Italian took him back.

Dovizioso pounced next, passing Lorenzo after Viñales had gone through on Rossi, the Championship leader taking the ‘Doctor’ as the trio began to break away from Lorenzo – with Petrucci on the chase.

Petrucci caught the group before too long as Dovizioso took over at the front, and the Pramac rider then pounced on Viñales after a small mistake to follow the factory Ducati.

The gap grew and then shrunk, before the factory Ducati in the lead gained a small gap, then Viñales took over in second. Closing in and then falling back, the pendulum swung between the two men until the last lap – with Dovizioso riding inch-perfect around every corner to take his third ever Grand Prix victory, and the first for a red machine at Mugello since Casey Stoner won in 2009.

Viñales took second to increase his Championship lead once again, with Petrucci putting in the dry-weather ride of his life to complete the podium after staying clear of Rossi over the last couple of laps. The ‘Doctor’, who suffered a motocross crash in training the week before the event, pushed hard through the pain barrier at home and just missed the podium but took good points.

Alvaro Bautista on the Aspar Ducati took a big scalp as he caught and passed reigning champion Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda to complete the top five, with Johann Zarco guiding his Tech 3 Yamaha to seventh behind Marquez.

Lorenzo, after his early duel for the lead, suffered grip issues later in the race and crossed the line in eighth, beating Ducati test rider Michele Pirro over the line. Suzuki’s  Andrea Iannone  completed the top ten.

Late drama further down the field saw Dani Pedrosa slide out, with his Repsol Honda unfortunately collecting LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow on the final lap.

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MotoGP – Lorenzo snatches dramatic Mugello win

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It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Yamaha MotoGP squad with reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo securing a brilliant victory in the Gran Premio d’Italia after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

His achievement is the more remarkable after his engine let go in spectacular fashion during the warm-up, a fate which also struck team-mate Valentino Rossi, although the Italian’s failed in spectacular style during the race itself.

Jorge Lorenzo rode his signature race, fighting through the grid to take the holeshot going into the first corner. With his team-mate on his tail, he led across the line after the first lap, but it soon became clear his fellow Yamaha rider would not go down without a fight. The Doctor made a pass going into Turn One, but Lorenzo was not shaken and quickly regained the lead as the Italian ran wide.

With a clear track ahead the #99 rider tried to make a break, putting in metronomic lap after metronomic lap, but he was unable to shake Rossi who continued to pile on the pressure, ready to seize any opportunity to pass. However, the smooth Spaniard left no space for him to slip past and made sure to brake at the last possible moment every time going into turn one to keep the lead.

Lorenzo rode defensively until Rossi retired after his engine lunched itself in spectacular style. However, there was no rest for Lorenzo as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez caught the Yamaha man with ten laps to go. With five points between them in the championship, the two Spaniards traded blows in some close racing, Marquez constantly probing and attacking, taking the lead diving into corners, but unable to get the Honda stopped on the brakes, allowing Lorenzo to slip inside.

The last lap saw a series of brutal moves, with Lorenzo making an unexpected overtaking manoeuvre in the Scarperia corner. It didn’t stick, but Lorenzo used his experience and launched his YZR-M1 out of the last corner to get the tow and steal the victory, his third of the season, as he crossed the line just 0.019s ahead of Marquez.

The win is Yamaha’s hundredth premier class win of the modern four-stroke era, and their third consecutive first place of the 2016 season.

Speaking after the race, Jorge Lorenzo said: “It was an unexpected race, because we thought that Iannone and Viñales, who had a very high pace, would be fighting until the end for the victory, but in the end it was Marquez. “He didn’t look like he had the pace in the practice sessions, but he was following me the whole race. I tried to escape, pushing so much on the changes in direction and I used a lot of energy.

“I thought I maybe I didn’t have enough to fight with Marc for the victory, because with him riding behind me he maybe saved more energy and was more powerful at the end, but my luck was the engine this time. When I stayed behind him I thought I was losing the race and tried a bit of a crazy move that I pulled on De Angelis in 250cc in the race in 2005. This memory was in my head, so I said to myself “Why not try the same?” and did it.

“I passed him but went wide and he overtook me again. In the last corner I tried again under braking, but he closed the door so much that if I had released the brake maybe we could have touched and crashed together, so I decided to stay in second place and make a lot of speed in the last corner and exit with the slipstream and try. When I exited the corner I thought I was losing the race, but my bike caught up with him so much, it was a surprising win.

“In Moto3 we often see races like this, but in MotoGP this kind of finish doesn’t happen often. Today, if I had been fighting with Rossi or Iannone, I wouldn’t have won, it was a crazy battle.”

Team-mate Rossi was not so fortunate – starting from pole position, the Italian made a strong start and slotted in behind Lorenzo going into turn one. Determined not to let the Spaniard get away, Rossi briefly took the lead in the second lap of the race going into turn one, but had to hand it back when he ran wide. With the massive support from his fans cheering him on, the Doctor kept as close to Lorenzo as possible while keeping Marquez at a distance, but his race ended prematurely with 15 laps to go when his engine let go.

Lorenzo’s 25 point haul from Mugello keeps him in first position in the championship standings, with 115 points. He has a ten-point lead over Marquez and is 37 points ahead of Rossi in third place.

MotoGP – Rossi claims sensational pole at Mugello, Lorenzo reignites fued

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Valentino Rossi claimed a sensational pole at Mugello yesterday, using a tow off next year’s team-mate Maveric Viñales to devastating effect.

The move reignited the bad blood between the Doctor and current team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, with the Spaniard accusing Rossi and Viñales of working together to improve the veteran’s starting position.

The reigning world champion, who struggled to match his pre-qualifying form, said: “Was it a coincidence that Rossi and Viñales just happened to find each other on track? Well if it’s a coincidence, it’s a coincidence which has been repeated five or six times. So to have so many repeated coincidences… But it could be. Who knows?”

Marc Marquez, the two-time world champion who had a spectacular falling out with Rossi last season, was less cryptic. He said: “I was watching the practice and I saw that Viñales did the time behind Valentino and then the opposite. It looks like they speak and they organize.”

Rossi responded with his trademark humour, dismissing the accusations by saying that he was very scared they would send a note home to his mother for copying from another student.

However, he was clearly irked at the suggestions, and told the Italian media that Lorenzo should have the decency not to talk about riders conspiring together, once again fanning the fire of his own conspiracy that Lorenzo and Márquez had worked together to prevent Rossi from winning the 2015 championship.

Sunday’s race just got a whole load more interesting…

MotoGP – double reason for Pedrosa to celebrate at Mugello

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Dani Pedrosa arrives in Mugello with two reasons to celebrate – he’s just renewed his contract with the Honda Factory team for an additional two years and also celebrates a personal milestone achievement this weekend as he makes his 250th Grand Prix appearance.

Over the 15 years following his debut race in 2001 at Suzuka aboard an Honda RS125R, Pedrosa won three world titles (1 x 125cc – 2003, 2 x 250cc – 2004, 2005) and has achieved more podiums for the Honda Factory than any other rider, with a total of 142 including 51 victories (8 x 125cc, 15 x 250cc, 28 x MotoGP).

The Spaniard said: “I’m very happy to arrive at the Italian GP having already renewed with Honda and aware I will be able to keep working with a team I know and trust. With our future well lined up we’ll be totally free to just focus on the work to do on track.

“Mugello has a very fast and flowing layout with many long corners so finding a good setup and a good grip will be crucial. So far my overall pace in races has been better than it could be expected from practices, in Le Mans at least it was so in the second part of the race, so I’m hoping to start strong from Friday and to keep improving over the weekend. I’ll try to do better Saturday in qualifying and to get a better grid position so be closer to the front and not remaining stuck in the first part of the race”.

MotoGP – Iannone scores best ever finish at Mugello

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Ducati Factory rider Andrea Iannone had a dream Italian GP after scoring his best-ever finish in MotoGP, taking the runner-up slot in the race at Mugello.
Iannone looked to get a jump start as he started from pole position, but regrouped to take 20 points for second. After crossing the line at the end of the opening lap in third place, Iannone was then passed by Marquez one lap later and he remained fourth until lap 9. On the tenth lap Andrea then passed both Dovizioso and Marquez to move into second, and he held onto that place until the chequered flag despite coming under attack from Marquez, who crashed out, and a rapidly recovering Rossi. Thanks to this result, Iannone has now moved into fourth place overall in the standings with 81 points.
He said: “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.”
Team-mate Dovizioso enjoyed a less successful home GP, with a rear sprocket problem causing him to slow and then enter the pits on lap 14.

MotoGP – Lorenzo unstoppable at Mugello

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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.

MotoGP – mixed fortunes for Respol Hondas at Mugello

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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.

MotoGP – Redding plagued by lack of rear grip at Mugello

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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.”

MotoGP – Crutchlow dislocates ankle at Mugello

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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.”

MotoGP – Redding continues to struggle at Mugello

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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.”