The MotoGP Paddock arrives this weekend in the hills of Tuscany, near Florence, for one of the most spectacular GPs of the calendar. The stunning Mugello circuit will host the Italian Grand Prix, a GP that gathers hundreds of thousands of spectators every year, making from this event a wonder of the sport.
As it is already well-known, this is the home GP of Valentino Rossi. Even though the Yamaha Movistar rider can consider himself ”home” in any venue, due to the incredible support from his fans around the world, Mugello is particularly special.
The devotion of the italians to their hero is something rare in the world of sports. The seven time premier class champion has an enviable speed here, so the home GP comes perfectly after the heartbreak suffered in Le Mans, when he lost the back of his bike while riding in second place with just three corners to go. First of all, a victory would compensate the disaster from last year, when, after starting from pole, technical issues forced him to retire. Of course, a win would close the point gap between him and the standings leader, his teammate, Maverick Vinales. His mission will be more hard after the motocross accident suffered last week, but we never now what unexpected powers ”the doctor” may catch.
Maverick Vinales comes in Italy with high morale, having won three of the first five races of the season and leading the championship. Mugello is a perfect chance for him to grow his lead at the front. He enjoys riding here a lot, having a record of three podiums, includin a win in 2012. One of his closest rivals comes here injured, so Maverick can take advantage.
Dani Pedrosa is currently the main rival of Vinales, the ”Baby Samurai” being behind his countryman for 17 points. His form is good as he succeeded the stunning win in Jerez with another podium in Le Mans, climbing all the way up from P13 to P3. It will be interesting to see if Dani can continue his podium run on a circuit on which he last won in 2010.
Marc Marquez will definitely be looking for a win after the retirement in Le Mans. The 2016 champion is currently 4th in the standings, 27 points behind Vinales. Another disappointment here would highly reduce his title chances, so the Spaniard will be searching again for glory on the track on which he won his first GP in the 125cc class back in 2010.
Another man we should keep our eyes on is Johann Zarco. The Frenchman comes here after taking his maidden podium finish in Le Mans. The Moto2 champion battled it hard at the beginning of the race with the Yamaha Movistar riders, but had to settle down in 3rd place until the last moments of the race. With 3 corners to go, Valentino Rossi offered him the second position after crashing out. Since the retirement from the Qatar GP, Zarco has always finished inside the top 5, and he will be looking for more of this in Mugello.
Jorge Lorenzo has a glorious past on this track. Since 2009, every race saw him crossing the finish line in either first or second place. This season such a finish will be much more challenging, as he is riding on the Ducati. In spite of the poor performances of the Bolognese team in the last years, Mugello is a track where the italians have always showed good pace. Andrea Iannone finished second in 2015, after starting from pole, and third last year. So, with good memories here for both man and machine, Lorenzo will be interesting to watch through this weekend.
The first practice session will kick off on Friday, at local time 09:55. The race is scheduled, as usual, on Sunday, at 14:00.
foto: Yamaha Racing