The recent race in Mugello, Italy was one for the ages in the premiere class of MotoGP. A race primarily decided on the last two laps with each competing rider trying to get the better of one another. It was a showcase of extraordinary skills and bravery of these riders who push themselves and the machines to the limit.
Mugello was also witness to the 300th race of Valentino Rossi, hailed as his generation’s greatest motorcycle racer ever. Thousands of Italian fans flocked the race track, donning shirts proclaiming their support for their native rider. Valentino did not disappoint as he finished third in the race, despite having some major issues during testing and qualifying races. Starting from the tenth on the grid, the Doctor showed form reminiscent of his championship years where he slowly shook of the riders in front of him until reaching third position. From there. he would cruise on the way to his fourth podium finish for the season.
But the main spectacle of the race was the battle between the champions of MotoGP for the past two years. Jorge Lorenzo, still reeling from what may be his worst season start knows that this race is vital to restore his mojo. He was hampered by a lot of issues, from tires, bike setup as well as physicality. Marc Marquez on the other hand is riding a tide of euphoria, having won the first five races in front row. Come Mugello, he has been able to continue his particularly impressive form throughout practice and would again be starting at the front.
When the red lights went off, Ducati made its rocket start, with Pramac rider, Andrea Iannone blazing to the front. A couple of laps and the charge of Jorge Lorenzo has brought him at the front. Knowing that Marc Marquez is two places behind him, he tried mightily to increase the lead, riding his machinery to its limit, taking as much rubber out of the edge of the tires.
But Marc Marquez won’t be denied his sixth win in as many race as the season. He kept pace with Lorenzo, at times swapping places with him. Marquez made his race winning overtake on the long straight, taking on Lorenzo through the slipstream. Lorenzo made a valiant effort to try mightily to retake the front position, but Marquez held the passing lanes defensively. At the final lap, Lorenzo was not able to use his corner speed to overtake Marquez on the final turn where he was able to do so easily at the earlier stages of the race. Again, it was Marquez who first adorned the chequered flag.
At the post-race interview, Lorenzo was delighted with the result but in his mind, he knows that for him to beat Marquez, Yamaha needs to step up its efforts to provide him a faster bike. Twice he mentioned that they are losing on acceleration and top speed, and these were the areas that Marc Marquez with his superior Honda machinery used to his advantage.
It is very exciting to see Lorenzo back in form, given that of all the current riders in the grid, he’s the one who could match the reigning champion’s speed. Rossi’s resurgence is also a nice welcome to keep the races exciting, especially at the early stages of the race, but he still needs to up his game to match these two Spaniards. Pedrosa has been steady but not enough to make any dent at the front. The Ducati, particularly Iannone, has shown that he can duke it out at the start of the races, but he needs to keep the consistency throughout the race. Dovizioso will also require more development from his factory Ducati to give better results every race weekend. The Espargaro brothers have shown some form and effort, but their machinery clearly lacks the power to match the factory bikes. All in all, the race at Mugello could well be a preview of more exciting races to come.