Following two weekends of action-packed racing, the MotoG grid heads south to the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM at Mugello for the final race of the triple-header. Having encountered mixed weather and high-profile crashes in both of the preceding races, the teams and riders will no-doubt be hoping for an incident-free and sunny weekend in Italy.
Despite being taken out at Assen and finishing second in Germany, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge heads into the Italian race 14 points adrift at the top of the championship. The Spaniard, who is still nursing an injured ankle from his crash, will undoubtedly be focussing on his race at Mugello last year, which he won in stunning fashion. Heading into the last race it was Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner who was his main challenger, however after a scintillating win at the Sachsenring, it is his teammate Dani Pedrosa who lies second in the championship and looking in ominous form.
Stoner, however, was the main talking point after last weekend, after an uncharacteristic crash saw him drop vital points in his championship bid. Despite his self-confessed “win it or bin it” attitude to a race, the Australian will be looking for a solid points finish in Italy to claw back championship positions.
Behind Stoner, there is likely to be another triplet of Yamahas consisting of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, as well as Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies. Despite Crutchlow seemingly having the upper hand on outright pace, its Dovizioso who is winning the race battles so far, having taken his third podium of the season last time out. Dovizioso also beat Stoner to second spot on the podium at his home track last year. Spies on the other hand has struggled to match his teammate’s pace and has had his work cut out with the satellite bikes. He has however improved drastically from his difficult start to the season, and will be looking to take yet another step forward at Mugello.
The Ducati Team heads into its home round with expectations heaped upon them, yet will no doubt remain realistic about their chances, as they are still far off the other factory bikes. They will however take heart from the fact that Valentino Rossi, a nine-times winner at Mugello, recorded his best result of the season in the dry in Germany, and that both him and Nicky Hayden were able to do battle with a satellite Honda and Yamaha machine. Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá will once again be looking to mix it up on his satellite Ducati, while Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham is likely to be replaced once again by Ducati test rider Franco Battaini, as the Czech rider continues to recover from injury. A final decision will be made closer to the time.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista has now served his penalty for the Lorenzo crash in Assen, and will once again be able to contest qualifying at the Italian round. He looked strong in Germany as he fought his way to seventh place after starting from last on the grid. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl finished a tremendous fifth at his home race, and will be hoping to go one further again, as he looks ever more comfortable on board his satellite machine.
The CRT field continues to be headed by the dominant Power Electronics Aspar Team with Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró, yet NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards made a big step forward in Germany, and looks to be back on form. As usual they will be joined by Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini, San Carlo’s Michele Pirro, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Avintia Blusens duo of Yonny Hernández and Iván Silva.