2014 Mugello MotoGP Preview
Five rounds, one winner. That’s way the 2014 MotoGP Championship has shaped itself in the first quarter of the season.
The winner – Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez – has broken and tied record after record. One highlight? He became the first rider to win the opening five rounds from pole since Giacomo Agostini in 1971 (500 GP class).
But the reigning champ’s rival so far this season, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, has much incentive this weekend as the series heads to Mugello in VR46’s native Italy.
This is not only Rossi’s favorite circuit that’s resides in the Tuscany hillsides just outside of Florence, but also one where he won seven-straight wins in the premier class (2002-2008). But that’s not it; the nine-time World Champion has also won there in the 125cc class in 1997, and also the 250cc class in 1999. Last year, though, he suffer a DNF due to a first-lap crash.
So far this season Rossi has finished second a total of three times, including two weeks ago at Le Mans. The podium at the French Grand Prix was Rossi’s 150th in GP racing.
And this week, Rossi begins his 300th GP. Of course, a victory before his passionate home crowd would provide the optimal lasting effect of his 300th GP, so his target will be without a doubt Marquez.
“I am very happy to go to Mugello. This is a beautiful track and I like it so much. This is one of my favorite weekend’s of the season! For this reason I will try to give my best. There are always 25 points as the other races, but Mugello is a matter of honor. Jorge has won the last three years on the Yamaha, doing fantastic races, and this means that the M1 is very competitive on this track,” Rossi says.
“It will be my 300th GP this weekend and for that I am not very happy because it means that I’m old but I’m happy because I am in good shape and I can still be very fast! See you at Mugello!”
At 34-years old, Rossi is considered old in GP racing, especially considering his nemesis Marquez is a fresh 21. And the Spaniard has a perfect 125 points heading into round six of 18, 42 ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa and 44 ahead of Rossi. Marquez, who also crashed out of Mugello last season, knows that challenges lay ahead in Italy.
“Le Mans was a great weekend for us and although it may look easy from the outside, it is a result of a lot hard work with the team over the weekend to set the bike up. Mugello is a tricky circuit ‒one of the hardest on the calendar‒ and we struggled a lot last year,” Marquez says.
“I had many crashes over the weekend and then crashed out of the race also. Now I have an extra year’s experience and I hope it will go more smoothly for us! I know that Valentino will be very strong at his ‘home’ race, Jorge has won there for the past three years and Dani is also very fast there, so we will need to stay focused and if we cannot challenge for the win then we must take important points for the Championship.”
The biggest threat to both Rossi and Marquez will be two-time MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi’s teammate is only fifth in the standings, and struggled most of this season. But the Spaniard has won at Mugello for the past three-consecutive years.
“Well, first of all I would like to forget what happened at Le Mans (finished sixth). There I couldn’t feel good on the bike and therefore we need to think about the future. I will never give up and continue working really hard to get ready when our moment comes,” Lorenzo says.
“Now we are going to visit some special tracks for me and I think we can change some things to stay in front. We need to try to fight for our first victory of the season. That would be great for all of us, the team and I. Mugello is a suitable scenario for me where I’ve made some good memories in the past few years. It’s a special track and the layout is fantastic for my style of riding. Hopefully we can find our way in Tuscany!”
Another home favorite for both machine and rider is Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso. The GP14 pilot is currently fourth in the standings, 72 points behind Marquez. Thousands of “Ducatisti” will ride to Mugello for World Ducati Week, which is highlighted at the Correntaio corner of the circuit. The fans will cheer on Dovi as he chases another podium like his only one of 2014 at Circuit of the Americas, and also support his teammate Cal Crutchlow, who is currently 16th in the standings.
Two satellite riders that will chase top-five finishes at Mugello will be LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who are sixth and tenth in the championship point standings, respectively. Bautista has extra incentive, considering he took his first podium of 2014 MotoGP at Le Mans last week, the Spaniard finishing behind Rossi and winner Marquez.
Another rider who had luck in France was the reigning Moto2 Champion Pol Espargaro. The rookie piloted the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 to a fourth-place finish. With his positive results, he is just ahead of his brother, the top Open-class rider so far in 2014 MotoGP, NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, and teammate Bradley Smith in points.
Another Italian favorite just outside the top 10 in the MotoGP point standings is Pramac Racing Ducati’s Andrea Iannone. The GP14 pilot suffered two consecutive DNFs (Jerez, Le mans) after displaying strength in practices at the opening-three rounds.
As for the fourth Italian on the grid, IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci will return after missing Le Mans due to a fractured left wrist.
The Americans are outside the top 11 in points – Aspar Drive M7’s Nicky Hayden is in 12th, and Colin Edwards 18th.
The Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit was designed in 1974, and is known for its speeds – the prototypes hit over 215mph on the front straight. This year marks the 29th time Grand Prix racing will be held at Mugello, including 24-consecutive times since 1991.
2014 Mugello MotoGP TV Schedule
beIN Sports will broadcast 2014 Mugello MotoGP live with coverage beginning at 7 a.m. ET Sunday, June 1. The coverage will feature a reply of Le Mans MotoGP.
2014 MotoGP Point Standings (after five of 18 rounds):
|8||Aleix ESPARGARO||Forward Yamaha||SPA||37|
|18||Colin EDWARDS||Forward Yamaha||USA||7|