2016 Mugello MotoGP Preview
For the first time this season, the 2016 MotoGP Championship heads to Italy for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, round six of 18.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s headquarters is based in Gerno di Lesmo, and calls Mugello home. And its top rider so far this season – three-time MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo – is one of the most successful riders at the 3.26-mile circuit containing 15 corners.
Lorenzo has finished on the podium for the past seven races, which includes four wins (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015), and three runner-up positions (2009, 2010, 2014). The 29-year-old has also finished on the podium twice in the former 250cc class, including a win in 2006 and second in 2005.
The reigning MotoGP Champion enters Mugello after a flawless performance two weeks ago at Le Mans; Lorenzo earned his second win of the season – the other at Qatar, round 1 – and was able to retake the points lead from Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. Lorenzo lost the points lead to Marquez following round two at Circuit of the Americas, where Lorenzo suffered his only DNF so far this season.
Following his win at Le Mans, Lorenzo now has 90 points, five ahead of Marquez, who crashed out of the French Grand Prix.
“We arrive in Mugello with the great satisfaction of the last race in France. At Le Mans we got an important victory and we are leading the championship so we are pretty motivated for the coming races, especially the one in Mugello, a track that I usually enjoy a lot and where I’ve had some fun in the past,” Lorenzo says.
“It‘s one of my favorite places to ride and one of the most beautiful tracks in the world. The lay-out is perfect for the YZR-M1 and for my riding style as well so let‘s see what happen this season with the new electronics and tires.”
Lorenzo’s biggest threat at the Tuscan circuit will once again be his teammate, nine-time World Champion Rossi – the most successful rider at Mugello. The 37-year-old Italian won a record seven back-to-back victories at Mugello from 2002-2008, and earned third in 2009 and 2014. Rossi also earned 250cc (1999) and 125cc (1997) wins, giving him nine total victories before his home crowd.
So far in 2016 MotoGP, Rossi has three podiums, including a win in Jerez and runner-up two weeks ago at Le Mans. Rossi is currently third in points, 12 behind Lorenzo.
“I love Mugello and its atmosphere. It’s very difficult for me to keep my concentration here because there are always so many of my friends and fans around, but the Mugello race is also special for me for that reason. I‘ve had some victories here, many great battles and a lot of good memories,” Rossi says.
“I think this year we can be competitive because our bike is good and I‘m getting into a good shape. At the Le Mans GP we arrived late at achieving the right set up for the race, at Mugello we will not make this mistake again. After Le Mans I‘m relaxed and now I‘m ready to try to attain the maximum level of concentration for the Mugello GP.”
The Repsol Honda duo of Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, who starts his 250th GP race this weekend, are the other favorites.
Marquez, who’s four-race podium streak ended at Le Mans with a crash, has three wins at Mugellow – 125cc (2010), Moto2 (2011), and MotoGP (2014). The two-time MotoGP Champion crashed out last season. As for Pedrosa, who has renewed his Honda contract through 2018, he has scored eight-podium finishes at Mugello, including two wins – 250cc (2005) and MotoGP (2010).
Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso, who renewed his contract with Ducati through 2018, and Andrea Iannone will seek serious redemption in Mugello, which has a long straight that caters to the Ducati Desmosedici. Expect Ducati to break its own top-speed record once again at Mugello.
The last time both Ducati riders finished a race together was at Phillip Island, and many of those DNFs were from crashes while in podium contention. Last season at Mugello, Iannone secured his first premier-class pole before earning second, which was also his best-ever MotoGP finish. Dovizioso’s luck last season was much different at Mugello; the Italian suffered a DNF due to mechanical issues.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro will once again try to prove the strength of the GSX-RR in its sophomore year. Vinales earned his first MotoGP podium in Le Mans, and the first for Suzuki since the Czech Republic Grand Prix in 2008 (Alvaro Bautista).
Leading the Independent Team Championship is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro, who is now eight points ahead of Avintia Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera.
The action gets underway at 9:55 local time Friday with the first free practice session.
2016 Mugello MotoGP TV Schedule
beIN Sports will provide live coverage of the Italian Grand Prix beginning at 7:55 a.m. ET Sunday, May 22.
2016 MotoGP Point Standings (after five of 18 rounds):