Italian GP, Mugello – Preview: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa will be the man to beat at this weekend’s Gran Premio d’Italia TIM in Mugello following two convincing successive victories in the previous races. His main rival could come in various guises, with his rookie teammate Marc Marquez continuing to shine at every race, and Yamaha providing a strong set of contenders.
Of those, it will be Factory Yamaha Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo who will be looking for the biggest turnaround in fortunes, after a set-up disaster in Le Mans left him in unfamiliar territory down the field. Lorenzo won convincingly at Mugello last year, though as the race in Le Mans showed – this does not count for much in the world on MotoGP™. Valentino Rossi will be hoping for a similar step forward, as he not only returns to his home race for the first time in two years on a Yamaha, but also looks to get the best out of his bike to impress the loyal home support.
One Yamaha rider who will not be looking for any kind of change is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, whose second place in Le Mans could be a distinct signal of things to come. Having managed the result with a fractured shin, the Brit could pose an even bigger threat after a few weeks recovery. Two satellite riders that will be taking note of his feats are LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista. Neither has challenged for a podium yet despite some good performances, hence both will be aiming to mix it up with the factory riders up front.
The Ducati Team is arguably the local star of the weekend, as a total of five Desmosedicis will line up on the grid. Factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden will hope to build on the positive weekend in Le Mans, as well as the two-day private test they had at Mugello before Le Mans. Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies returns from injury, whilst his teammate on the Energy T.I. Pramac Racing machine, Andrea Iannone, will be further into his healing process from an arm-pump operation as well as a knee injury. Official Ducati test rider Michele Pirro will make his third appearance this year, this time once again as a wild card on the Desmosedici GP13 “lab bike”.
Tech 3’s rookie Bradley Smith will aim to get to grips with the Italian track as soon as possible, whilst looking to stick with the Ducatis and be ahead of leading CRT contenders Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet on the Power Electronics Aspar machines. They will be joined on the grid by NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti, Came IodaRacing Project duo Danilo Petrucci and Lukas Pesek, Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama and Hector Barbera, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham and Gresini’s Bryan Staring.
Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding is the man firmly in charge as the Moto2™ filed descends on Mugello for the fifth race of the championship at the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM.
Following his first-ever win in Moto2™ with a calculated ride in Le Mans in tricky conditions, the Brit will be hopeful that this signals the start of a winning streak. However he will face fierce competition, arguably none more so than from Tuenti HP 40 riders Esteve Rabat and Pol Espargaro, who aim to get back to winning ways after both simultaneously crashed out of the race in France. Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami will be a similar threat, with the Japanese also underestimating conditions as he was leading the last race before dropping his bike in the gravel.
Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio is proving to be an ever-lurking threat, whilst Desguaces La Torre SAG Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon will be brimming with confidence after his podium in Le Mans. Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter, who currently lies fourth in the world championship has been a steady performer throughout and could pose a podium threat, whilst the likes of Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol, Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis and Mattia Pasini will also be ones to watch.
The Moto2™ grid will be graced with one wildcard in Mugello in the shape of Frenchman Lucas Mahias with the Prosport Moto team.
As the Moto3™ contingent heads to Mugello for the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM this weekend, the majority of riders will be looking to break the Spanish KTM dominance at the top, with Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales currently in the lead in the championship.
Viñales has taken two wins in a row, meaning that Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins will have their work cut out getting past their rapid compatriot. Yet powered by the so-far dominant KTM machinery, the likes of Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger on this Kalex KTM and Ambrogio Next Racing’s Brad Binder on his Suter Honda will have an even greater task ahead to match the Spanish trio. Binder recorded his career best of fourth in Jerez two races ago, and will be one of the riders to watch over the weekend.
His teammate Danny Webb will be back on his bike after missing Le Mans due to concussion and a broken foot, whilst Salom’s teammate Zulfahmi Khairuddin will be fit to race after his highside in the last race. Redox RW Racing GP’s Jakub Kornfeil has been a silent performer so far this season and will look to build on this form in Italy, whilst Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez will look to get back to the kind of form he would be expecting. Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira will aim to bounce back from his crash in Le Mans, whilst teammate Efren Vazquez will have to assess his fitness after suffering a broken collarbone during Free Practice in the same event.
Kiefer Racing’s Florian Alt will miss the race due to his fractured right forearm injury from the French Grand Prix, whilst two Italian wildcards will take place in the form of Andrea Locatelli for Mahindra Racing and Michael Coletti with the Minimoto Portomaggiore team.