News 2 Jun 2010

MotoGP: Rossi looking to halt Lorenzo's surge at Mugello

Lorenzo currently has the upperhand on Yamaha teammate Rossi heading into Mugello.

Lorenzo currently has the upperhand on Yamaha teammate Rossi heading into Mugello.

The scenic setting of the Mugello circuit welcomes the FIM MotoGP World Championship for round four this weekend, as Jorge Lorenzo aims to extend his nine point lead over Fiat Yamaha teammate and rival Valentino Rossi at the top of the standings at the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM.

With victory at Le Mans last time out Lorenzo secured his first back-to-back wins in the premier class, and his 70 points so far is the highest points tally by a rider in the MotoGP class after the opening three rounds since Rossi amassed the same amount in the same number of races in 2005.

Lorenzo finished on the podium last season in second at the Italian circuit, and if he goes one better this year and wins ahead of Rossi it will be the first time since joining the premier class in 2000 that the reigning world champion will have finished behind a teammate in three successive races.

“Last year Mugello was one of my best races – I crashed in the warm-up lap, but otherwise it was almost perfect and I was so happy to get on the podium,” Lorenzo commented. “The sessions and the race were amazing because the weather kept changing.

“For me, Mugello is the best circuit in the world, joint with Phillip Island. It’s a classic circuit with many ups and downs and an incredible atmosphere. I have had a great start to the season and once again our aim will be to be strong from the first day and get on the podium.”

Mugello however is a circuit that Rossi has enjoyed immense success at previously. The Italian finished third there last season on his way to the title, having won the previous seven years on the bounce. Rossi will also be going for a 50th premier class pole position start at the weekend.

“After another rest I hope my shoulder is fully recovered and that I will be back to full strength for Mugello, my home race,” Rossi explained. “We had some problems in Le Mans so we will be working hard from the first session to make sure that we’re back to our best.

“Mugello is an incredible place to ride a motorcycle, there is nowhere else like it in the world with all the tifosi around the hills and when you go out for the first lap the sound is something amazing. I always look forward to racing there and I hope we will be in good shape this weekend.”

Another Italian hoping to impress his home fans will be Andrea Dovizioso, and the Repsol Honda rider has produced a strong start to the season that has already seen two podium finishes. Last year at Mugello he just missed out on a top three placement having led at stages of both the wet and dry parts of the race.

“We’re arriving at Mugello in a good situation. Two weeks ago at Le Mans I was able to ride fast, we had a good race and I ended up with a great podium finish – plus we were quite close to the two Yamahas,” the Italian said.

“I really look forward to racing at Mugello. It’s also a special appointment also for my fans gathered at the Casanova Savelli turns, so I’ll do everything I can to put on a good show for them this weekend.”

His teammate Dani Pedrosa sits just two points behind in the standings and has enjoyed success at Mugello before. Last year he failed to finish the race, but in his three premier class rides there before that he never finished outside the top four, two of which were podium results.

Nicky Hayden is looking to improve on last year's form at Mugello.

Nicky Hayden is looking to improve on last year's form at Mugello.

“Mugello is one of the circuits you always look forward to because the atmosphere is incredible,” Pedrosa said. “It’s very similar to Spain, people are very passionate, the viewing areas are normally full from the first day of practice and it helps you to get quickly in the mood for the grand prix. The strategy for the weekend is simply to be totally focused and get the maximum out of every session.”

Nicky Hayden and Ducati Marlboro will be looking for a good result in the team’s home race, with the American seeking an improvement on his recent form at Mugello. A best placement of third came back in 2006, and Hayden’s form this season indicates that a first podium of 2010 is imminent.

“I can’t wait to go to Mugello and banish the memory of last year, when I was quite slow in front of the Italian fans and so many people from Ducati,” Hayden admitted. “Actually things went better in the race than they had done in practice but then I suffered a problem with my rear brake and the result was anything but good.

“We’re going into a run of races that could be quite decent for us and we’re confident. Mugello is a circuit that can be really nice to ride or really tough, depending on whether you can get your bike working well and have a good set-up. If you manage that you can have some serious fun. I’m expecting to see a lot of Ducati fans so hopefully I can have fun and they can too.”

Hayden’s teammate Casey Stoner’s season has gotten off to a difficult start, but the Australian won here last year and broke Rossi’s dominance so will be confident that he can score his first notable points of the season at Mugello.

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) is the highest placed private team rider in the standings and enjoyed his best MotoGP finish at Mugello last year with eighth place, and the Frenchman will continue his battle with Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech3).

Rookies Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar), in their first premier class outings at the track, will look to consolidate their impressive starts and top ten positions in the standings, with fellow newcomer Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team) and Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio hot on their trail.

Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Loris Capirossi and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) will all be looking to bounce back after Le Mans, whilst Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing) will want to build on his promising result from the last round.

Moto2: Elias determined to continue winning ways for Gresini

Toni Elías will be going for a third straight win in the Moto2 class as he attempts to defend and even extend his 18-point Championship lead. Elías’ victory at Le Mans has handed him a championship lead for the first time since 2001, when he led the 125cc standings after 12 rounds.

“The Moto2 series is still very new, so it’s difficult to know what will happen this weekend,” Elias said. “I have won the last two races, but no one knows what will happen at Mugello. The lap times are so close, so it’s very easy to be first at one moment, and then in tenth place the next.”

Mugello is one of three circuits at which the Spaniard has not finished on the podium in any of the classes he has raced in however, and he will be targeting an improvement in that statistic as he looks to protect his lead.

Shoya Tomizawa will be a threat as he looks to cut the deficit to Elías, at a track at which the Japanese rider has raced just once – a non-finish in the 250cc class last season. The Technomag-CIP rider enjoyed a rapid start to the campaign with a win in Qatar and second place at Jerez, but a crash at Le Mans means he will want a return to top-three form as the early-season battle at the top unfolds.

Simone Corsi’s first podium of the season at Le Mans lifted the Italian to third spot in the standings, and the JiR Moto2 man has experienced victory at Mugello before. He will be hopeful of repeating his 125cc win from 2008 in his home GP and edge closer to the top spot currently occupied by Elías.

Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar), Sergio Gadea (Tenerife 40 Pons) and Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2) complete the top six as it stands heading into the weekend, and with six different chassis manufacturers inside the top ten positions the competition is fierce. Added to the 40-strong field will be wild card rider Xavier Simeon (Holiday Gym Racing), who will once more be riding a Moriwaki chassis following his entry at Le Mans.

Looking to make his mark after an eventful start to the season will be Alex de Angelis (RSM Team Scot) who will be going for a fourth career podium at the track, whilst Mashel Al Naimi (Blusens-STX) will be replaced by Anthony Delhalle for this race after the Qatari rider underwent an operation for compartmental syndrome in his arm last Friday.

125GP: Terol and Espargaró to battle on in Italian sunshine

The fantastic contest that is playing out in the 125cc World Championship will also continue and at present it is Nico Terol who leads the standings with a narrow two-point advantage over Pol Espargaró.

Terol finished second in last year’s race at Mugello having qualified down in 12th, whilst Tuenti Racing rider Espargaró has finished third and fourth in the past two seasons and comes into this race off the back of two straight wins at Jerez and Le Mans.

Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX), Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) and Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) will all be candidates for at least the podium and all three will have aspirations of challenging for first wins not only of the season, but of their careers.

Bradley Smith felt much better on his Aprilia of the Bancaja Aspar team at Le Mans, and returns to a track where he won last year. He will hope for a similar result to lift him from his current place of sixth in the standings.

Enforcing the regular 125cc field will be a quintet of Italian wildcard riders. Junior GP Racing Team FMI will enter the trio of Luigi Morciano, Alessandro Tonucci and Armando Pontone, with Tommaso Gabrielli (Racing Team Gabrielli) and Faenza Racing’s Mattia Tarozzi all taking part.