The Fiat Yamaha Team head to the spectacular Italian circuit of Mugello this weekend flying high at the top of the championship after a formidable start to the season. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi lie first and second in the riders’ standings while the team, which is based at Gerno di Lesmo, just outside Milan, is leading the team table and Yamaha the Manufacturers’.
22-year-old Lorenzo comes to Italy this weekend in stunning form, lying first in the championship after two wins from four races, with the second having come at the last round in Le Mans. The Spaniard has a good record at Mugello and took victory there from pole in 2006 on the way to his first world championship, but he has a score to settle with the track this time around after sliding out on lap seven on his MotoGP debut there last year. This time he is fully fit and determined to continue the momentum of his season with another trip to the podium.
Rossi shares an unmatched relationship with this Tuscan track, having won there an incredible nine times in thirteen years. The last seven victories have been consecutive, including the last five with Yamaha and this weekend he will be more determined than ever to add another victory to his stunning record. Last time out saw a rare error from Rossi when he fell at Le Mans and he eventually finished last in a race for the first time in his career, meaning he took zero points and surrendered his championship lead to his team-mate, albeit by just one point. This weekend he will put all that behind him in pursuit of more home glory and a second win of the season, when tens of thousands of his passionate Italian fans fill the Mugello amphitheatre and turn the hillsides yellow.
Mugello is one of the fastest and most spectacular circuits in the world, with the 1,141m main straight seeing the 800cc machines reach speeds of over 320km/h before braking into the fearsome downhill right-hander. The track differs from other fast circuits in its frequent changes of gradient and the speed of its chicanes. There is a mix of slower and high-speed corners, although even the slowest corners are still wide – allowing plenty of scope for overtaking as the riders get a choice of line, putting the emphasis as much on their skill as on the precision of their chassis set-up and generally leading to some spectacular racing in an unrivalled atmosphere.
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks…
"Mugello is, along with Phillip Island, the most beautiful circuit that we race at; I love it! Plus I am feeling very confident after our good race in Le Mans. We have had some very strange races with the weather conditions and I would never have expected to recover 24 points in one go. Now we arrive in Italy (where the weather I hope will be better) as leaders, but the most important thing is that I am confident and feeling fit. Last year was not easy for me; I already had problems with my ankles and then I crashed when trying to pass Andrea Dovizioso. Mugello and Montmeló were horrible for me and finished that period of the season having taken no points. This year, just to take some points at this track and at Catalunya will be an improvement and that’s my aim! On Wednesday I will be in Rome, watching Champions League Final with my team, Barcelona, against Manchester United. I hope the weekend begins perfectly for me with that title!"
Valentino Rossi Speaks…
"Racing at Mugello is something incredible for me, but every year it gets more difficult to keep my record going and seven wins in a row is already a lot! I do feel pressure going there, but at the same time it is always amazing and the fans give me an extra motivation that helps me to perform in a different way there. I hope it’s the same again this year, because after Le Mans I really need a good result! It was disappointing but everyone has the occasional bad day and that was ours. Everything possible went wrong but hopefully that is all our bad luck for now and this time, at our home race, we will be back to our best. I always look forward to this race; it’s very busy for me but I have so many amazing memories. Let’s hope to create some more this weekend."
Team Manager – Daniele Romagnoli Speaks…
"Heading to race in Mugello after the great victory in Le Mans gives high motivation to Jorge and the entire team. This year the top riders are very close and to stay at the top of the championship we are going to have to make sure we’re always on the podium, so we have to keep a high level of concentration and our feet on the ground. Last year Jorge crashed in the race when he lost the front but we feel confident of a good result this time around because our technical package has been improved and Jorge is much stronger and of course fully fit. It’s the home race for a lot of the guys in our team so we’re looking forward to a great weekend."
Team Manager – David Brivio Speaks…
"Mugello is of course a great and important race for us, but each year it gets a bit harder to keep the winning record. Now we try for Valentino’s eighth in a row but it will be tough because everyone will be out to stop him – he is the man to beat there! It will be difficult but we’re excited by the challenge. After Le Mans we need to get back to the form we showed in Spain; we’re close to the lead but we need to keep the momentum going and try to get as many points as possible. Let’s hope for another Mugello party!"
Valentino Rossi : Information
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 98 (72 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 214 (154 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 52 (42 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 8 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 5 x MotoGP)
Jorge Lorenzo: Information
Lives: London, UK
GP victories: 24 (3 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 115 (21 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 31 (5 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)
Mugello: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’50.003
Mugello: Best Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2008, 1’48.130
Grand Prix Results: Mugello 2008
1. V. Rossi (Yamaha) 42’31.153
2. C. Stoner (Ducati) +2.201
3. D.Pedrosa (Honda) +4.867