#ItalianGP Mugello, raceday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
There’s a new Grand Prix winner in town: Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati), on his 124th start in the premier class, has taken to the top step for the first time after a near-perfect performance to give Ducati their third win in a row at Mugello, holding off reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to cross the line just 0.043 clear at the chequered flag. Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) completed the podium in his 300th Grand Prix.
It was Marquez who took the holeshot from pole, but the headline-grabber as the lights went out was Dovizioso as the Italian shot off the line from P9 with a perfect start and was into a stunning third – behind Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) – into Turn 1. Petrucci dropped to fifth, the two Petronas Yamaha SRTs of Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli also lost out, and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) moved up. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was also on the move, threading his way into the fight at the front after starting in 13th. At the front though, it only took one lap for Dovizioso and Petrucci to tag onto the back of Marquez as they swooped through on Crutchlow in quick succession.
The question was, could the reigning Champion bolt? And the answer was no. It remained a train of riders at the front, with nine within two seconds, but home eyes were also trained elsewhere as Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) ran on, as did rookie Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), and the two were forced into a quick trip across the gravel – rejoining at the back. The race was on and Mir would recover for points, but it ended early for the ‘Doctor’ as he then slid out of contention at Turn 9 – a tough end to a tough weekend.
Back at the front though, the fight was feisty and slowly but surely, a front quintet of Petrucci, Marquez, Dovizioso, Miller and Rins were able to pull away. Drama then hit Miller though as he suddenly crashed out – not long after teammate Francesco Bagnaia had done the same – and then there were four.
That was how it would remain, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) the next man down the road but the Japanese rider unable to close in. With five laps to go there was nothing between the foursome, and despite the chopping and changing, it was Petrucci who’d been at the front since Lap 11 to assert some authority on his charge at the win – with ‘DesmoDovi’ then taking over from Marquez in second. Sure enough, the number 04 struck against his teammate at Turn 1 with four to go, but he couldn’t pull away – and Petrucci soon hit back. He held on in the lead next time around into San Donato too, and again, until the high speed chess game arrived at the final lap.
Dovizioso slipstreamed past his teammate on the final full speed dash down the straight, but Marquez did one better and managed to take both, the Honda man ahead into Turn 1 for the final time. But he headed a little wide and Dovizioso took the inside line – but he was wide as well. Enter Petrucci, with the number 9 spotting the gap and slicing past both as Dovi had to then sit up and cede second to Marquez. The task for ‘Petrux’ was then easier said than done: defend the lead of his first home Grand Prix in factory colours from the most notorious last lap lunger. But that’s what he did.
He needed the lap of his life and that’s exactly what he delivered, just out of reach of Marquez and emerging from the final corner still ahead as Dovi tried to find a way past Marquez. But there wasn’t one, and the Turn 1 shuffle would prove decisive as Petrucci escaped Marquez who escaped Dovi on the run to the line – and the number 04 Ducati even came under threat from Rins into the final corner. But the Suzuki man couldn’t stick with the Borgo Panigale power, and one of the races of the season saw Petrucci make some history, Marquez gaining a little ground in the Championship and Dovizioso forced to settle for third on his 300th Grand Prix start. For all his help and support, however, Petrucci did dedicate the win to his compatriot.
Behind Rins’ stellar ride to fourth, Nakagami pulled out an ace on race day to take his best ever premier class finish as he completed the top five – and as top Independent Team rider to boot. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) gained some ground late on to claim sixth, with wildcard Michele Pirro (Mission Winnow Ducati) a late mover as well as he came home seventh. Crutchlow slipped to eighth, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) taking P9 after another impressive weekend that included KTM’s highest finish in a Free Practice session and direct entry into Q2.
Fabio Quartararo, who lost out after his stunning qualifying session, crossed the line tenth but once again took home a good little haul of points to keep his supreme run in the fight for Rookie of the Year, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) taking P11 on Noale factory home turf. Mir recovered to 12th and got past Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), with Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completing the points.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took back-to-back wins in the intermediate class for the first time in Mugello, with the Spaniard repeating his Le Mans pace to pull away into clear air in the lead and leave Italy only two points off the Championship lead. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) put in an impressive performance on home turf to take his first podium of the season in second, with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) completing the podium.
It was Lüthi who took the holeshot from second on the grid, with he and teammate Marcel Schrötter taking control of the first few laps and trying to make a break for it. And that they did, initially, but after five laps Marquez, from third on the grid, was homing in and bringing Marini and Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) along for the ride. The number 73 didn’t waste time getting past Schrötter, and Marini then duelled the German before making it stick.
That had given Lüthi and Marquez the chance to make a small break for it, just under a second clear, but Marquez had his eyes on the lead. Nine laps down, Marquez made it a Mugello classic as he slipstreamed Lüthi down the start finish straight and took over at the front at Turn 1.
From there he never looked back, pulling clear of those on the chase as Marini edged closer to Lüthi and eyed a move. Once past though, the clock was running out for the Italian and he couldn’t match Marquez, with the French GP winner crossing the line in clear air for another dominant win. For Marini though it marks a return to the podium for the first time this season, and the Sky Racing Team VR46 rider also said it marked a big turnaround in how he felt on the bike. Lüthi, ever-consistent, completed the podium to make it three riders now within four points at the top of the Championship.
The man still at the top of those standings despite a more difficult home Grand Prix than likely expected, Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40), put together a brilliant recovery to move through from the fifth row to P4 by the flag. His teammate, Augusto Fernandez, was three tenths behind in fifth place, ahead of Italtrans Racing Team’s Enea Bastianini in sixth, a career best finish in Moto2™ as he came home top rookie. Navarro and Schrötter eventually slipped back to seventh and eighth respectively, with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) rounded out the top ten despite the Italian being involved in some first lap drama and heading a little wide early on.
2017 winner Mattia Pasini (Petronas Sprinta Racing) took P12, with the points completed by Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Remy Gardner and teammate Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo).
There’s no place like home and in front of the loud, proud and partisan crowd at Mugello, polesitter Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) pitched it to perfection to pip compatriot Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) to the line in the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, winning his first Grand Prix by just 0.029 in a classic Moto3™ melee. Behind the home duo, Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) left it late to make his charge for the front, completing the podium in third and still within hundredths of the win.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) got the best start off the front row, but Arbolino was quick to hit back and the Italian took over at the front through Turn 1 as Rodrigo headed a bit wide and the battle began. One serious mover off the start proved John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) as the Brit shot up from 17th on the grid into the top five, but as is always the case at Mugello it was a group affair at the front.
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Rodrigo, Dalla Porta, McPhee and Arbolino were the key names at the sharp end as the squabbling began, but there was early heartbreak for one not long after as Rodrigo crashed out. That created a bit of breathing space for Dalla Porta, Arbolino and Suzuki but it didn’t take long for it to re-form into a group.
With 14 laps to go, Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was the man on the move. Starting down in P18 after having his fastest Q2 lap cancelled on Saturday, the Italian had crossed the line at the end of Lap 1 even further down the order in P21. But lap by lap he moved forward, set a fastest lap and was the man leading the second group before breaking away from it and catching those ahead. At the same time, it looked like Dalla Porta had managed to break away in the lead although it wasn’t for long.Ttwo laps later Arbolino had reeled him in and it was game on with 18 riders in the freight train at the front.
Home heartbreak then hit for Migno and Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) as they crashed out the group, before Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) also went down and took Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) with him. With three laps to go the front group had been whittled down further as eight riders broke free: Dalla Porta, Arbolino, Antonelli, McPhee, Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Suzuki, Masia and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), and the action ratcheted up a notch once again.
Masia made his serious lunge for the front at Turn 1 on the final lap, surging through to challenge for the lead from third but the man who’d led for much of the race – Dalla Porta – was ready to fight for it and reasserted his authority. But by the final sector Arbolino was clear of Masia too, and from there it was a classic Mugello drag to the line…
Pulling out just at the right time and side by side with Dalla Porta on the blast to the chequered flag, it was incredibly close but Arbolino just managed to edge ahead– ‘just’ translating into 0.29 on the timesheets. Masia took third just 0.078 back, with Antonelli gaining an incredible 14 places on his grid position to cross the line in P4 at his home Grand Prix and put in some serious damage limitation in the Championship.
Foggia completed the top five ahead of McPhee, with points leader Aron Canet losing some ground in the standings as he crossed the line in P7, ahead of Suzuki by the flag. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) was top rookie and took ninth, ahead of Darryn Binder as the South African was one to lose out big when crashes shuffled the group.
Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) took P11, beating teammate Albert Arenas and Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in a three-way fight, with Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) and Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) completing the points.