Valentino Rossi and the 2010 MotoGP motorcycling racing series head to Mugello, the home track of the Fiat Yamaha Team, which lies just a couple of hours drive south of their European base close to Milan. This will be the 25th time that MotoGP / 500cc races have been held at Mugello.
The not-yet bitter rivals (but this is going to get ugly soon) arrive in Tuscany with Jorge Lorenzo just ahead of Valentino Rossi on championship points. The riders have combined for three wins and a further three podiums this season.
Reigning World Champion Rossi has an unequalled record with his beloved Mugello having won there nine times (in all classes) in fourteen years, which included an extraordinary run of seven consecutive victories to 2008.
Last year he had to be content with a slightly different view from the podium in third place but he will be out for win number ten this weekend as he bids to close the gap to his teammate, which currently stands at nine points.
A look at the past premier class winners shows that Rossi, Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi are the only current riders to have stood on top of the box at Mugello.
All-Time MotoGP / 500cc Mugello Wins
> 7 Rossi, Valentino ITALY
> 6 Doohan, Mick AUSTRALIA
> 2 Spencer, Freddie UNITED STATES
> 1 Schwantz, Kevin UNITED STATES
> 1 Rainey, Wayne UNITED STATES
> 1 Mamola, Randy UNITED STATES
> 1 Stoner, Casey AUSTRALIA
> 1 Roberts, Kenny UNITED STATES
> 1 Barros, Alex BRAZIL
> 1 Sheene, Barry GREAT BRITAIN
> 1 Capirossi, Loris ITALY
> 1 Criville, Alex SPAIN
But, the 23-year-old Lorenzo has been in dominant form, having won the last two races in Spain and France to take his MotoGP win tally to seven since 2008.
The Spaniard enjoys the high-speed Mugello circuit, where he won in 2006 on the way to his first 250cc title.
He crashed out on his Italian Premier-Class debut in 2008 but in 2009 he recovered from a sighting-lap crash to take a strong second and get a taste of Mugello mayhem from the podium, when the fans traditionally storm onto the track to flood the finish straight.
Lozenzo beat Rossi at Mugello last year and also brings a 2-1 advantage over Rossi so far in 2010.
2010 MotoGP Winners
Race 1: Losail Circuit Rossi, Valentino ITALY Yamaha
Race 2: Le Mans Lorenzo, Jorge SPAIN Yamaha
Race 3: Jerez Lorenzo, Jorge SPAIN Yamaha
Valentino Rossi says: "After another rest I hope my shoulder is fully recovered and that I will be back to full strength for Mugello, my home race. We had some problems in Le Mans so we will be working hard from the first session to make sure that we’re back to our best. Mugello is an incredible place to ride a motorcycle, there is nowhere else like it in the world with all the tifosi around the hills and when you go out for the first lap the sound is something amazing. I always look forward to racing there and I hope we will be in good shape this weekend."
Davide Brivio says: "Mugello is our home race and it’s always fun to go there for all the team. It’s a special place with an incredible atmosphere and all the fans make a huge party. It’s one of Valentino’s best tracks, even though he didn’t win there last year for the first time in years! He’s had some more time to recover from his shoulder now and we will be working hard from the first session in our team to be as strong as possible."
Jorge Lorenzo says: "Last year Mugello was one of my best races! I crashed in the warm-up lap, but otherwise it was almost perfect and I was so happy to get on the podium. The sessions and the race were amazing because the weather kept changing. For me, Mugello is the best circuit in the world, joint with Phillip Island. It’s a classic circuit with many ups and downs and an incredible atmosphere. I have had a great start to the season and once again our aim will be to be strong from the first day and get on the podium."
Wilco Zeelenberg says: "Jorge is riding in a very mature and focused way, and now he goes to Mugello which he loves and which is the home race for many of our team. Our team is very close now and working very well together, Jorge trusts us to make the right decisions for him and we have seen the rewards of this partnership in the first three races. We’re looking forward to Mugello and we will be aiming for the podium once again."
Age vs Wisdom Rider Match-up
Valentino Rossi : Information
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 104 (78 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 229 (169 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 59 (49 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 9 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 6 x MotoGP)
Jorge Lorenzo: Information
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 28 (7 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 131 (36 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 35 (9 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)
The spectacular Mugello circuit is one of the fastest in the world, with the 1,141m main street tempting the 800cc bikes to speeds of over 320km/h, before braking into the awesome downhill right-hander.
The track is also one of the widest on the calendar and boasts some high-speed chicanes and frequent changes of gradient.
It generally brings about some superb racing, all played out in the unrivalled atmosphere created by the fanatical Italian fans who throng the hillsides to cheer on their heroes.
Mugello: Record Lap – C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’50.003
Mugello: Best Lap – V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2008, 1’48.130
Grand Prix Results: Mugello 2009
1. C. Stoner (Ducati) 45’41.894
2. J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) +1.001
3. V. Rossi (Yamaha) +2.076