Mugello, Italy

2018 Mugello MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Old Age, Treachery, And Sheer Outright Speed

Mugello is many things: Majestic, magical, magnificent. It is also mendacious. It can catch you out, lead you down the wrong path, make you think you've found the right direction, only to find it is a dead end. It rewards sleight of hand too. There are many different ways to skin a cat at Mugello, if you will excuse the expression, so you have to keep your cards close to your chest. To win at Mugello, you need to be fast, you need to be brave, but you also need to have a good poker face.

Qualifying on Saturday was both magnificent and mendacious. Pole was won through a combination of sublime riding and a good deal of meddling, subtly controlling rivals to keep them from any chance of a counterattack. It was a masterclass, but then what else would you expect at Mugello?

The deception started early in the weekend. All weekend long, Andrea Iannone has been fastest. On Friday, we thought it was just a single fast lap, a soft tire to flaunt his speed to prospective employers, now that he has been told he is surplus to requirements and must make way for Joan Mir. But dig into the timesheets and it is not just one lap, but serious speed, consistently capable of lapping just that little bit faster than anyone else.

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2018 Mugello MotoGP FP4 Result: Iannone Persists

The hottest session yet in Mugello offered a good opportunity to put in some serious laps on the preferred race option, which appeared to be the hard front and medium rear tyre combination. Unless you’re Marc Marquez - which is a phrase often used. The hard front was both a popular option given the track conditions and the cause of a handful of crashes as the riders were getting up to speed.

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2018 Mugello Moto2 FP3 Result: Homecoming For Pasini

The final practice session of the intermediate class was a mixed affair when it came to the main contenders in the class. While Joan Mir and teammate Alex Marquez were trading blows at the top of the timesheets early on, Pecco Bagnaia and Miguel Oliveira were struggling to even threaten the top ten.

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2018 Mugello MotoGP FP3 Result: Marquez Makes His Move

Things were warming up nicely both literally and metaphorically in the premier class’ final roulette ride for a Q2 ticket, especially with a few high profile names lingering back down the order after Friday’s adventures. One of those men was Andrea Dovizioso, who was on the move from the off, cautiously placing himself into the top ten on the combined standings only four laps in. Meanwhile, Friday leader Andrea Iannone was exceedingly impressive on a used combination of medium front and soft rear and led most of the session with a time half a second slower than his Friday benchmark.

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2018 Mugello Moto3 FP3 Result: Just Another Morning For Martin

The curtain of fog lifted just in time for the lightweight class to open the show on Saturday morning but it was a lukewarm performance on a cold track. Most of the usual actors were at the front but the pace didn’t get too hot until the final two minutes. Aron Canet set the tone at the start of the session but ultimately and unavoidably, it was Jorge Martin who once again put his name in the headline.

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2018 Mugello MotoGP Friday Round Up: Magnificent, Cruel, And Terrifying

Mugello is many things: majestic, magical, magnificent. Beautifully set, with a natural flow unmatched almost anywhere else. It was made to host the fastest, most powerful motorcycles in the world, giving them room to stretch their legs and challenging the rider's skill and bravery, and the bike's handling, horsepower, and braking.

Unfortunately, this challenge is what makes Mugello so dangerous. During the afternoon session, Andrea Dovizioso hit 356 km/h on the Ducati Desmosedici GP18. Shortly after, his engine spewed a huge cloud of smoke at the end of the straight, causing the red flag to come out. A little while previously, the session had also been red flagged, after a huge, vicious crash by Michele Pirro just over the crest at the end of the straight, the fastest and most dangerous part of the track.

It made for some harrowing moments at Mugello. The track fell silent, a pall descending on pit lane as the teams feared the worst. Having learned their lesson at previous tragedies, Dorna were not showing either the crash or the rider on the ground. The mood only lifted when word reached us that Pirro was conscious, and moving his arms and legs. MotoGP dodged a bullet on Friday. But there are still rounds in the chamber.

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2018 Mugello Moto2 FP2 Result: Spotlight On Mir Again

The sun was finally fully out for the last session of the day and Mattia Pasini was the one who shone first, the Italian sorting out his bike setup troubles from FP1 to dominate the early part of FP2. It wasn’t to last as the final two minutes were a flurry of red and orange sectors. Friday’s winner ended up being Joan Mir, the Spaniard presumably in a hurry to get to MotoGP and going a tenth faster than Sam Lowes.

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