Andrea Iannone started the 2012 season being as fast as he was in the first two seasons of Moto2, but the Italian rider was also close to disaster too often and was left with no chances of winning the title against Toni Elías in 2010 or Stefan Bradl in 2011.
Despite unpromising results in the past, the flying Italian is showing a different attitude in 2012. Different enough to be finishing every race this current season until the last Grand Prix in Germany, where the Speed Up rider crashed but rejoined the race to finish 17th with no points.
Back in 2010, Iannone’s superlative first victory on the Speed UP at Mugello even cast the shadow of cheating over his Speed Up bike, but telemetry data clearly showed then that Iannone was in fact impressively faster in corner speed than the rest.
After a nightmare season in 2011 riding a Suter, Iannone was back on the Speed Up for 2012, and part of his success may be found in his growing riding control on the limit, but also in getting better at calculating a racing strategy and the help of a bike he looks very comfortable racing on. Coming to Mugello, it was to be expected to see Iannone in front.
Of course, this season would put the brightest spotlights on Iannone, if series point leader Marc Márquez or Pol Espargaró were racing in another class. Unfortunately for the Italian, the two Spanish riders are as determined as Iannone to win the third Moto2 world title.
Márquez got a key victory over Iannone at Assen a few weeks ago, showing he was even faster than Iannone at his best on the track. It was a clear message from the Spaniard: "No more special Iannone days, victory can still go to Marquez too».
But this time, as we all saw at Mugello, Márquez was not a fast enough rival for Iannone. It may be because of his leading position in the championship standings or due to the lack of a decent set up during the weekend at Mugello, as the Spaniard declared later on Sunday.
Pol Espargaró’s brilliant 2012 season has had some dark moments from unfortunate actions, and some others resulting in part from his fearless riding spirit. This was the case in Holland, crashing early while leading a race that he had every chance of winning. Sachsenring’s wet qualifying session was a low moment for him too, unable to qualify better than 17th. This also forced him to overtake too many riders to finish fourth, just after seeing God when his Kalex left the track down the hill at 180 km/h and Espargaró got back on track miraculously in one piece.
Espargaró was the fastest man on the track during practice at Mugello once again. He was suffering ankle damage after Johann Zarco smashed his TSR into Espargaró's Kalex in FP3, but Espargaró still got the pole position in qualifying session two hours later. At Mugello Espargaró looked like being the fastest rider in the race and tried hard to get away from Iannone, Luthi, Bradley Smith and Marc Márquez.
The Pons HP Tuenti team rider was determined to win on his own, leaving a group with some of the most dangerous axe murderers in the intermediate class. But he was not aware of Iannone’s intentions in front of home crowd. After all, Espargaró was not good enough to rival Iannone at Mugello either, who found the best of himself to get a second win of the season, which still keeps his hopes alive as a championship contender.
In another way, it was nice to watch how Iannone’s win at Mugello brought such joy to the Italian crowd during the weekend, after Spanish riders took pole position in every class –Viñales, Espargaró and Pedrosa-, the full front row of the MotoGP race grid on Saturday –Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Barberá-, and two race wins on Sunday –Lorenzo and Viñales-.
It’s summer time now for the Moto2 riders as well. Marquez leads the championship standing with 163 points. Espargaró and Iannone are second and third with 129. Both riders left Mugello taking important points from Marquez, as we all know everything can change in Moto2 races at any unexpected moment.
Thomas Luthi seems to back at the front after a poor performance in Great Britain, Holland and Germany. The Swiss rider is fourth with 123 points, not so far from Iannone or Espargaró. All this and many more mid-season facts will be analysed soon at Motomatters.com.