Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi took battling podium positions in the Italian Grand Prix today, after an action-packed afternoon saw the riders forced to swap bikes for the second race in a row due to changing weather conditions. Lorenzo recovered from a crash on the sighting lap to come home in second behind Casey Stoner, whilst Rossi finally surrendered the crown he has worn at his home track for the past seven years and had to be content with third.The rain had stopped by 1.30pm but the track was still very wet and Lorenzo slid out on the penultimate corner just before he reached the grid. He managed to remount and made it back to the box to swap bikes, exiting for a second sighting lap just seconds before the pit lane closed and leaving his team facing a race against time to rebuild the damaged bike before the drying track forced a pit stop. The Spaniard had a shaky start and dropped as low as tenth on the first lap before crossing the line in sixth first time round. He made little progress in the opening laps, trading places back and forth with Marco Melandri and Dani Pedrosa, and it was not until riders started to come in to change bikes that he began to creep through the order. On lap ten he was in third behind Stoner and Rossi and it was time for a pit stop to change onto dry tyres, with Lorenzo lying fourth after the reshuffle. From then on the 22-year-old made a determined charge for podium, passing Andrea Dovizioso and Loris Capirossi to take a deserved second place, one second behind Stoner.In the first, wet part of the race Rossi had looked his usual menacing Mugello self, stalking through the field from fifth after the end of the first lap to take the lead from Stoner on lap eight. He pitted at the same time as his team-mate on lap ten but a wrong tyre choice set him back and it was several laps before he had enough heat in his tyres to start really pushing and he lost several places in the process. In the final stages he was the quickest man on track and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 23, but by then it was too late to challenge for the lead and he had to make settle for fighting his way through to third, holding off a determined last-lap challenge from Dovizioso.
Lorenzo loses the championship lead to Stoner but the first three are still within ten points with the Australian on 90, the Mallorcan on 86 and Rossi close behind on 81. The next round of the championship is Lorenzo’s home race at Montmelo in Catalunya in two weeks time.2nd – Jorge Lorenzo Speaks…"Honestly, this is as good as a win for me and I can’t really believe the race today, it was like a movie! This morning in warm-up I was quite worried because I was slow in the rain, then on the sighting lap I slid off into the gravel pit. All I could think about was making it back to the pits as quickly as possible in case there was still a chance to make the grid and luckily I made it just in time. My team had the second bike ready and I was able to still start from the pole position. On the grid I tried not to think about the crash, I just tried to focus. But then I had a big slide off the line and the first part of the race wasn’t so good for me. I have to say the biggest thank you to my guys today for getting the damaged bike ready in such a short time; it was a brilliant job and after I swapped bikes everything changed. From then on I had a great rhythm and I was able to stay on fighting to the end and take this second place. It’s a really amazing result because things could have been much worse today, so thank you again to everyone for making it possible. I’m really happy with this result."3rd – Valentino Rossi Speaks…"Of course I am disappointed not to win again in Mugello but seven times in a row is not so bad and the important thing is that I made it onto the podium. It’s a very special moment in Mugello, with all the fans below, and I would have been very sad to have missed that! It was a very hard race today and once again the weather was a problem for us, we’re very unlucky in these half-and-half races and I think this is my first podium in one. In the wet we were very fast because we had found a great setting, but then when we changed bikes we made a mistake and chose a front tyre that was too hard, so it took me a long time to be able to put enough temperature on it and I lost a lot of time. At the end I was able to ride better and I knew that I had to make it onto the podium, so I am happy for this. Of course after Le Mans this is a big improvement and these points are important because it’s very close between the three of us."Team Manager – Daniele Romagnoli Speaks…"We can consider this like a victory after crashing on the sighting lap; we were very lucky to be able to get back to the pit in time to change the bike and to still be able to start from the grid. The mechanics were incredible today and showed their ability when repairing the damaged bike in such a short time; without such a brilliant job from them our race would have been over today so I have to say a huge thank you to them. The team did a great job and that enabled Jorge to do his part to take a fantastic second place. Congratulations to everyone!"Team Manager – Davide Brivio Speaks…"Of course this is not what we expect from Mugello, but we have taken an important podium and these 16 points are key for the championship. It is easy to say now that we could have done things differently, but we took a decision before the race based on the characteristics of our bike, on Valentino’s riding style and on our experience. You only know at the end of the race if the decision you took was the right one. Today we leave with a good points haul, we remain close to the top of the classification and we continue towards our goal: getting more and more points in order to make sure that we have more than everybody else at the end of the season!"