Questions After Mugello – The FULL GAS Blog
FULL GAS: Our special, regular blog by Kermit Abadilla from the Philippines – taking a look back at the weekend’s race action and sharing other MotGP, Moto2, Moto3, and WSBK related stuff. A fan of the sport since 8, he is interested in fitness, sports, inspiring businesses and stories, reading, and likes daydreaming and helping. He also does social media & content writing.
Try asking riders accross three MotoGP classes what their favorite track is and most likely you’ll hear them say Mugello, Assen, Philip Island, and the Sepang circuit. Mugello, though, compared to the other three mentioned tracks is more special. Besides being a very beautiful place, Mugello is located in Italy, a country with a rich motorcycle racing tradition. A lot of riders look forward to racing here in front of thousands of MotoGP-crazy fans.
With hometown hero Valentino Rossi leading the MotoGP championship, Ducati having it’s best season yet in years, and three young Italians in Moto3 finishing on the podium at the last GP in Le Mans, it’s no wonder why over 90,000 fans gathered to watch the Italian GP. They may not have a local man win a race as they have hoped for but for sure they got their money’s worth witnessing Valentino Rossi’s third place finish, Jorge Lorenzo’s masterclass performance, Ducati’s resurgence, an exciting Moto2 race, and a classic, nerve-wracking Moto3 encounter.
Now that the dust has settled down, here are some interesting questions that arise out of Sunday’s race results…
Could this be Jorge Lorenzo’s championship year?
Winner of the last two rounds, Jorge Lorenzo came to Mugello full of confidence of completing a hat-trick of victories. It didn’t took him too long to show that he is the clear-cut favorite to win the race, breaking the lap record in Mugello during the free practice. Andrea Iannone snatched pole position away from Lorenzo in qualifying but it was Lorenzo who appeared to have the stronger, more consistent pace. On race day, Lorenzo break away from his rivals as quickly as expected and was never challenged until the checkered flag.
The two-time premier class champion believes this could be his year to add another MotoGP Championship to his name. ìI thought on Saturday that this can be our year but it is still very soon to say that we are going to win or keep this level, because the championship is very long still. For sure the other riders are going to improve and they are going to come, but five victories of six [for Yamaha] means something and our bike is working very well,î said Lorenzo.
We know that when Lorenzo’s confident his bike is working very well, he’ll be hard to beat. That’s bad news to the rest of the field.
Is Marc Marquez still a championship favorite?
After the first 6 races this season, Marc Marquez now finds himself fifth place in the standings, 49 points behind championship leader Valentino Rossi. At this point last year, Marquez was the winner of 6 straight races. There’s no question the reigning MotoGP Champion is having his most misereble premier class season to date.
Marquez started the Italian Grand Prix from 13th place on the grid – his career worst. Not known as a quick starter, Marquez made brave moves in the opening lap and carved his way to fourth by the end of it. A battle with the Ducati pair of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso, and teammate Dani Pedrosa ensued. However, Marquez’s race came to a premature end when he lost the front of his bike with 5 laps remaining.
ìWe did the most difficult work, the first laps, but then the second part of the race I was struggling a lot. I was going over the limit every corner and then in the end I crash. But OK, the most important thing is that we tried,” Marquez said.
At Le Mans, Marquez and the other other Honda riders had problems with front tyre grip but at Mugello Marquez stated that the lack of rear grip from his 2015 Honda bike was the problem, making him ride only with the front tyre and no support on the rear. But that’s not the only issue with this year’s bike. It’s also suffering from an aggressive engine character which they tried to solve by tweaking the electronics since engines can’t be modified.
Marquez’s title hopes looks slimmer now but not impossible. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi believe it’s not yet over for Marquez. ìThe situation of Marquez is unbelievable now ñ nobody expects this. After six races Marc is in fifth position in the championship and it is a big surprise for everybody. But like Jorge says, we speak about Marc Marquez and the factory Honda. I think they have some problem right now ñ technical, balance of the bike, something ñ but they can recover very, very fast, also in one week and come back strong like last year. So it is not closed for sure,î said Rossi.
It takes a lot of talent to win races, but it will be hard to win chanpionships with talent alone. Honda needs to provide their riders especially Marc Marquez the right package as soon as possible if they want to win the title again this year.
Now with first 2015 win, how fast can Tito Rabat and Miguel Oliveira cut the huge points lead at the top of the championship?
Tito Rabat and Miguel Oliveira can now finally move on from the pressure of getting their first wins this season. In Moto2, Rabat overcame a last lap challenge from Johann Zarco to clinch the victory. In Moto3, Miguel Oliveira’s smarts helped him become the first Portugese rider to win a motorcycle grand prix. The Moto3 race was clearly the race of the day and maybe even the best race so far this season. An emotional Miguel Oliveira claimed he had tears in his eyes when he crossed the finish line first and beat a large pack of riders behind him.
Even with the win, Rabat and Oliveira are still a lot of points behind the championship leaders in their respective classes. Coincidentally, the two men who finished second to the both of them, Zarco and Danny Kent, are the championship leaders. They may not have won the race but you can bet on it that they still left Mugello feeling like winners. The points gap in Moto2 and Moto3 are huge compared to MotoGP. What is the reason? None of the other riders have been as consistent as Zarco and Kent in producing top results. If Rabat and Oliveira want to close the gap fast, they need to keep winning and stay consistent. It’s a proven recipe if you want to become the world champion.
Can KTM challenge Honda for the manufacturers title?
In 2012, KTM was dominating Moto3. Fast forward three years later, KTM needed 5 races before they can score their first win of the season. Oliveira’s win at Mugello was KTM’s second in a row after Romano Fenati’s strong showing at Le Mans. It’s good to see the Austrian manufacturer giving Honda some challenge. The start of the season has been a a bit of a nightmare for KTM but their current form suggests they can compete with the Japanese manufacturer.
In an interview with crash.net, top Honda rider Danny Kent said of the KTM: ìI think that for me the KTM has been very strong all year, they haven’t changed their engine all year but they’ve changed their settings. I’m not worried about the top speed because today showed that we are strong and can fight for race wins. For me all the engine manufacturers are very similar and each has their own strengths.
With KTM now improving, let’s hope Indian manufacturer Mahindra will also consistenly battle with Honda and KTM. At the moment only Italian rider Francesco Bagnaia has been able to ride it fast.