MotoGP Round 6: A familiar Italian track

Round 6  of the MotoGP Championship moves to the familiar Italian track of Mugello, this weekend. Leading the title fight are Reigning Champion Marc Marquez and his squad, the Repsol Honda Team. Rivals Ducati and Yamaha need to buck up a whole lot to catch the league leader.

After extending his string of consecutive wins to three in Le Mans last week, Marquez heads to Mugello, the scene of his first GP win back in 2010, with a 36-point lead in the riders’ standings. Marquez has been victorious at Mugello in all three classes: 2014 in MotoGP, 2011 in Moto2, and 2010 in 125cc (his first GP win in career), including a second-place result in 2016 and two pole positions.

Teammate Dani Pedrosa will be looking to enjoy a better weekend at the Tuscan track after a challenging start to the season and will be hoping his physical condition has improved further since the French GP almost two weeks ago. The Spaniard has two wins at Mugello: 1 x 250 (2005) and 1 x MotoGP (2010), plus an additional six podiums and two pole positions.

For the Ducati Team riders it will certainly be a special occasion, seeing as it is the home race for the ‘red bikes from Borgo Panigale. As they head out to tackle the challenging ups and downs of the beautiful Tuscany circuit, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo, together with Michele Pirro, entered for the first time this year as a wild-card with the third Desmosedici GP of the Ducati Test team, will certainly be able to count upon the extra support from the numerous supporters who are packed into the Ducati Grandstand at the Correntaio curve.

Dovizioso, who has taken part in ten editions of the Italian GP, is familiar with the passionate support from the Mugello fans and last year he was finally able to score his first home win after a splendid race. His team-mate Jorge Lorenzo holds a simply incredible record at Mugello, having won five of the last six editions of the GP and finishing second on three more occasions.

In the Yamaha camp, Maverick Viñales is looking to bounce back from a difficult race weekend in Le Mans, with full force. The Spaniard was pleased with the progress made during last week’s test in Montmeló, Spain, and is eager to keep the momentum going at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley. On his four occasions at Mugello, he has secured a win in 2012 (Moto3), a second place in 2017 (MotoGP) and two third places in 2011 (125cc) and 2013 (Moto3).

Local hero and definite fan favorite Valentino Rossi is also looking forward to putting on a show for the Italian crowd. Fresh from a third place at the Grand Prix de France, held a fortnight ago, the fans’ favorite has moved up to fourth place in the championship rankings, and he’s motivated to make further progress this weekend at a circuit that is very special to him. The 9-time champ has a record of seven back-to-back premier class victories at Mugello (from 2002 to 2008), and he also scored three MotoGP third places (in 2009, 2014 and 2015), a 250cc win (in 1999) and a second place (in 1998), and a 125cc win (in 1997).

The Italian GP schedule gets underway on Friday with the first free practice session, while the 23-lap race will start Sunday afternoon.