If there’s one look that MotoGP has been rocking lately it’s been unpredictability, all the more so in the splendid setting of Mugello. With track temperatures soaring over 50 degrees for the first time this weekend and with similar pace shown in practice by too many contenders to count, it was always going to be a hard grind. Maybe not so hard this time around for Jorge Lorenzo, who gave us flashbacks to his glory days with a masterful display to dominate in Mugello. No better way than a sixth win at the track and his first dressed in red to send a message to Ducati and to overshadow teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who finished second. Poleman Valentino Rossi saw a bit more action heading his way throughout the race and joined the podium at his home race, while also becoming the first rider to cross the 5000 premier class points milestone.
It wasn’t for the first time that Lorenzo fired into the lead at the start, demoting Rossi while Marc Marquez helped himself to third position. Andrea Iannone, Dovizioso, Alex Rins and Cal Crutchlow followed closely, while Maverick Viñales had a terrible start, going from third to ninth. Danilo Petrucci quickly found himself trailing the Spaniard after coming off worse in a battle with Marquez. On the topic of Honda, it was already starting to look like a bad day for the Japanese squad by turn two, when Dani Pedrosa and Takaaki Nakagami abandoned ship. Jack Miller, Karel Abraham, Tom Luthi and Scott Redding were also early victims of the conditions.
If the main players were waiting for Lorenzo’s familiar strategy to eat up his tyres and drag him back into battle, they would have been bitterly disappointed. By lap two, Lorenzo had four tenths in hand at the front when Marquez decided to make a move on Rossi in a bid to try to keep in touch with his compatriot while also working to bring his hard tyres up to working temperature. The Spaniard’s mission did not last long and although he wiped a significant portion of tarmac in turn ten with his elbow and thigh, he could not save the slide. The world champion rejoined last and continued lapping at frontrunner pace in his bid to pick up any points possible.
That left Lorenzo half a second ahead of Rossi but the Italian came under fire from Dovizioso by lap seven, the Ducati man bringing Iannone with him, Petrucci and Rins not far behind either. Rossi lost another place to the lead Suzuki as he ran wide in turn one but Iannone had a big challenge to get anywhere near the top speeds of the factory Ducatis ahead. Dovizioso himself looked to be struggling to bring down the one second gap to his teammate despite both riders posting red hot sector times. Iannone was not too far behind but not within striking distance either and Rossi looked like he was already struggling to match the pace of the frontrunners, with Petrucci looking to pounce on his compatriot.
At the halfway mark of the race, Lorenzo and Dovizioso were maintaining the status quo but Iannone was rapidly losing ground to the Ducatis, dropping three seconds and one position to Petrucci, who got past both Rossi and Iannone to join the all-Ducati provisional podium line-up. And that was not the blue bikes’ biggest problem, Rins and Crutchlow catching up with the podium battle as well. Iannone’s challenge faltered as did his medium front with ten laps to go, losing places to Rossi and teammate Rins. Rins was on a roll and pushed Rossi back to fifth soon after.
Meanwhile, Lorenzo showed no hint at slowing down with seven laps left, increasing his gap to two seconds. Behind him, it was the calm before the storm, the only move being Rossi demoting the Suzukis to make a comeback in the podium fight. This was bad news for Petrucci, who was six seconds off the leaders and got relegated by Rossi and Iannone one lap later. Rins and Crutchlow were also prepared to benefit from the Pramac’s rider’s tyre troubles while Maverick Viñales and Alvaro Bautista were only seven tenths off that battle too.
With five laps to go, Dovizioso looked to have thrown in the towel as Lorenzo led his teammate by over four seconds but Iannone could not resist another showdown with Rossi for the final podium spot. In the end, Lorenzo was out to make a statement by increasing his advantage to six seconds with a fierce pace in the 1:48s while all eyes were on Rossi and Iannone rubbing fairings – mostly metaphorically – every now and again. Rossi nailed third spot on the final lap and magically got within three tenths of a second of Dovizioso’s second place.
Iannone settled for fourth, lead Suzuki by only two hundredths of a second from Rins. Crutchlow finished one second down the road in sixth, with Petrucci fading all the way down to seventh place. Viñales got close to the Ducati but settled for eighth, ahead of an encouraging ninth place for Bautista and with Zarco completing the top ten after a lonely race for the Frenchman.
Marquez diligently brought the Honda home in 16th place and his non-scoring ride brings Rossi 23 points from the lead of the world championship. Viñales drops to third, another five points back – in an otherwise excellent turn of events for Yamana considering their early season troubles. Dovizioso found himself right back in the mix too, 29 points down on the world champion. And on to the world champion’s home we go.
|18||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||Honda||5 Laps|
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia||4 Laps|
|43||Jack MILLER||Ducati||22 Laps|
|12||Thomas LUTHI||Honda||22 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|26||Dani PEDROSA||Honda||0 Lap|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||Ducati||0 Lap|
|45||Scott REDDING||Aprilia||0 Lap|