What a few weeks it has for the MotoGP paddock. After learning the devastating news about their former competitor Nicky Hayden, who was involved in a bicycle accident, they led the world in mourning his death when he lost his fight to injuries sustained.
Returning to the Autodromo del Mugello for the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, not only did they lead tributes to Nicky, they were remembering Italian rider Marco Simoncelli as always, and the late Moto2 rider, Luis Salom on the first anniversary of his death. Our thoughts are with all of those we have lost and who are mourning their loss.
Rossi injured from training incident
Following a motocross training incident in between rounds, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) was taken to hospital to be checked after he had suffered chest and abdominal trauma. During Free Practice and Qualifying he discovered he had injured his arm as well but it did not stop him for qualifying on the front row for his home round.
Vinales on pole in Mugello
Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha) was on pole ahead of the Italian who must have more than truly be feeling the pressure to do well from the 98,00 fans donned in yellow around the circuit, as well having to make up for crashing out corners from the end of the previous round in Le Mans when it comes to the championship. They were joined on the front row by Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team; the Ducati clan were destined to do well at the track were they complete so much testing.
Vinales remained the quickest rider during the morning warm-up session on race day. It was overcast in Mugello, and the conditions were much cooler than those experienced in the preparation to the race. Rookie, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was second quickest ahead of Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who had been suffering with food poisoning prior.
Yellow fog descends on Mugello
The riders left the grid to complete the warm-up lap under a yellow fog that had descended on them as the man, many Rossi fans set off flares to show their support to their hero. In attendance were 98,269 fans around the Italian track where they were already ecstatic after hearing the Italian National Anthem played twice on the previous podiums.
The overcast conditions meant that the track temperature was approximately half of what it was the day before and so the tyre choices were once again going to be vital. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) had previously expressed his frustration that he felt Michelin brought a tyre suited to the Ducati wanting them to win. The Italian manufacturer have done a lot of testing at that circuit and so in turn have given a lot of feedback.
Various tyre choices throughout the pack
Many of the Ducati riders opted for the medium compound front and rear. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) opted for a hard front and medium rear. Others went for the hard compound front and rear and rookie, Zarco went for soft on the both.
Great start from Rossi on home turf
The lights went out to get the race underway and Rossi’s determination to win at home shone through as he charged away from the front row and led into the first turn. He immediately came under pressure from pole position man, Vinales as they completed the first lap of the 23 lap race.
All made it round the opening lap cleanly, but when they left the final turn and made their way down the stat-finish straight, the Ducatis thundered down the straight. Missing braking points at turn one however, Dovizioso and Lorenzo ran wide allowing Rossi to shoot past and regain a place later on.
Lorenzo takes the lead
Lorenzo led, for the first time since moving to Ducati he was at the front of a MotoGP race. However, with an amazing move at turn seven where he tightly turned his Yamaha, Rossi passed Lorenzo on the inside and was again back out in front.
Using the straight to his advantage however, Lorenzo got back in front. On the third lap however it was Dovizioso who shot down the inside of the straight but was out-braked.Petrucci overtook 2016 MotoGP champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) behind him to take fifth. Rossi went up the inside of Lorenzo in an attempt to get his lead back, it forced Lorenzo to sit up and thus allowed Vinales to sneak past too.
Vinales challenges Rossi for the lead
On the fourth lap, Rossi came under pressure from Vinales who passed him to lead for the first time but Rossi out-braked him. Lorenzo was struggling to stop his bike, it began to snake but it did not stop him and Dovizioso from ganging up on Vinales. Dovizioso tried to pass Vinales, but the Spaniard managed to fend him off.
Instead Vinales went on to pass Rossi and then things got worse for the Italian as Dovizioso bypassed him also. Rossi out-braked him heading into turn one of the fifth lap to regain second however. Further down the field, Iannone passed Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Zarco passed Alvaro Bautista (Pull & Bear Aspar Team). Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) also had to complete a ride-through penalty that he sustained from a jump-start.
Dovizioso goes to the front on home turf
Dovizioso had not given up on trying to pass Rossi and once again heading into turn one he got passed the Italian. Rossi stayed in touch and was all over the back of him, but struggled to find a way past. Behind them on the following lap, Lorenzo made a mistake and ran wide which allowed Marquez to pass him to take fifth. Lorenzo continued to lose places next to Bautista who overtook him to take sixth, and then Zarco passed him at turn seven forcing him down to eighth.
Petrucci had been working hard and by lap 2 he had managed to tag onto the back of the lead group. Rossi responded to the pressure and was able to catch Dovizioso. However on the straight, Petrucci used the Ducati’s acceleration to get closer. Dovizioso went on to catch Vinales and gained the lead again when he passed Vinales on the outside at turn one. Petrucci passed Rossi further round the lap.
More bad luck for Aleix
Unfortunately for Aleix Espargaro, his bad luck continued as he passed through the gravel after avoiding a crash on lap 12. Both he, and his brother Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) ended up retiring from the race a few laps later.
After taking third from Rossi, Petrucci made an attempt on Vinales to take second but his foot slipped off the foot-peg and he had to avoid a big crash. However, on the 15th lap, he passed the Spaniard at turn 15, and then confirmed the move when he got away down the straight.
Vinales runs wide before recovering second position
A couple of laps later, as they approached the end of the race, Vinales went wide at turn one. It would have been an opportunity for injured Rossi to challenge for the final spot but instead Vinales recovered well and went on to challenge Petrucci once again for second place.
Proving that the Yamaha is strong, he combined the use of Petrucci’s slipstream, and the acceleration of the M1 to pass Petrucci on the start-finish straight with four laps remaining, and passed the Italian heading into turn one to get second where he remained for the rest of the race.
Things settled, some riders were able to push to gain more positions. At the very end of the race however, on the final lap, Pedrosa crashed out at turn 10, tagging and bringing down a very angry Crutchlow with him. Crutchlow was fuming, he stood up and give an apologetic Pedrosa the finger to help express his anger. There was no way of either recovering to finish the race.
Dovizioso wins the Gran Premio D’Italia Oakley
Dovizioso won the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley in front of his home fans in Mugello, Italy; an Italian rider on Italian machinery, in Italy. The Italian became the fifth different winner this season collected the first win for the Italian manufacturer, meaning that on the podium, the local national anthem was sang three times. Vinales finished second which allowed him to extend his championship lead. Petrucci collected his first podium of the season when he finished the race in third.
Rossi was fourth, battered and bruised he still managed to place well in front of his home fans. Bautista made it was three Ducatis in the top five. Marquez crossed the line behind him to finish the race in sixth. Zarco was the highest placed Rookie in seventh ahead of Lorenzo. Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) who was making a wildcard appearance for the team he tests for was ninth after a solid performance throughout the weekend.
Iannone completed the top 10 in front of his home fans. Behind him, with a career best in the MotoGP, Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was 11th ahead of British rider, Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) in 12th. Jonas Folger has just had his contract with Monster Yamaha Tech3 extended to 2018, was 13th ahead of Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Ducati) and Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) who collected the last f the points available.
Vinales remains the championship leader
Vinales remains the championship leader on 105 points. Dovizioso’s win in Mugello placed him in second now above Rossi who dropped to third; four points behind the winner on 75 points. Marquez is joint fourth with his teammate, Pedrosa as both are on 68 points. Zarco remains the highest placed rookie in sixth above Lorenzo, Petrucci, Folger and Crutchlow who complete the top 10.