The following is from Honda…This weekend MotoGP looks forward to one of its all-time greatest events – the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. The fourth round of the 2010 MotoGP and Moto2 World Championships is hugely popular with everyone: riders, teams and spectators.Mugello has got it all: a superb high-speed circuit nestling in a beautiful Tuscan valley, the hillsides thronged with some of the world’s noisiest, most enthusiastic race fans. And outside you’ll find some of the world’s best restaurants, and only 35 kilometres miles away is Florence, cradle of the Renaissance.The MotoGP circus always gets an extra special welcome in Italy because five of the best riders on the grid are Italian, three of whom ride Honda machinery: Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V), Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V).Dovizioso goes into his home Grand Prix in perfect shape, fresh from a brilliant podium result at the French GP, his second top-three finish from the first three GPs. In last year’s wet-and-dry race at Mugello, the former 125 World Champion finished less than a tenth of a second off the podium, following an entertaining duel with reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Dovizioso has only climbed the podium once at his home GP, when he finished third in the 2006 250 GP, aboard a Honda RS250RW.Dovizioso’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) had a 2009 Italian GP he would rather forget, a heavy race tumble leaving the Spaniard battered and bruised. However, Pedrosa has excelled at Mugello, winning the 250 GP at the track in 2005 and achieving top-three MotoGP results in 2007 and 2008.Top privateer Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) aims to continue his impressive and super-consistent start to the 2010 MotoGP season with another strong ride. Sixth at the Qatar season opener and seventh at Le Mans two weeks ago, de Puniet has an extra reason to do well at Mugello – team owner Lucio Cecchinello is an Italian, and himself a former Italian GP winner. Cecchinello won the 2003 125 race at Mugello, beating a certain Dani Pedrosa by seven tenths of a second! Dovizioso was fourth in that race, just another tenth of a second behind!Italian star Melandri is currently riding a strong curve of improvement, having scored his best result of the season so far at Le Mans. The former 250 World Champion finished sixth at Le Mans, using Showa suspension for the first time this year. Melandri has good form at Mugello – he won the 2002 Italian 250 GP and has two other podium results in the minor classes – but has yet to make the top three in the elite category.Team-mate Simoncelli has also enjoyed success at Mugello, in the 250 class. The hard-riding MotoGP rookie won the 2008 250 GP at the track, on his way to that year’s world title, and finished second last May after a tough battle with Alvaro Bautista, another 2010 MotoGP rookie.Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) is another continuing his MotoGP apprenticeship at Mugello. The last-ever 250 World Champion knows that the complex nature of the Italian track will pose him his biggest challenge so far on a MotoGP bike. Mugello is the kind of venue that rewards experience, so Aoyama and his fellow MotoGP beginners have a challenging weekend ahead of them.The new Moto2 World Championship is sure to provide plenty more nail-biting action at Mugello – the fastest track the new Honda CBR600-powered class has visited so far. The first three races of the inaugural championship have already given it a reputation for thrills and spills, with 41 riders fighting for every one hundredth of a second. At Le Mans two weeks ago Moto2 made history, with the closest grid in more than six decades of Grand Prix competition. At the end of qualifying just 0.969 seconds covered the top 27 riders!Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) is currently the man on form, with two wins from the last two races giving him the points lead. Now one of an elite group of riders who have won Grand Prix victories in four classes, Elias (who has won GPs on 125s, 250s, MotoGP bikes and now on a MotoGP machine) would dearly love to make it a Moto2 hat-trick at Mugello for his Italian team boss Fausto Gresini.Qatar Moto2 winner Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP, Suter) was one of several fallers at Le Mans but still lies second on points. The Japanese struggled to produce his usual qualifying pace in France and ended up 15th on the grid, which got him caught up in the pack once the race started.Italian Simone Corsi (Jir Moto2, Motobi) scored his first Moto2 podium in France and will be out to repeat that performance on home tarmac.
Italy’s second best-placed Moto2 man is Roberto Rolfo (Italtrans S.T.R, Suter), currently ninth on points. The 30-year-old has Mugello podium form – he took second in the 2001 Italian 250 GP. Last year’s Mugello 250 winner Mattia Pasini (Jir Moto2, Motobi) is 14th on points in the Moto2 series, with two non-scores from the last two races.Mugello is the kind of fast, flowing track that really allows MotoGP bikes to unleash their awesome horsepower. The circuit is as popular with riders as it is with fans and is also reckoned to be one of the most challenging, with a thrilling blend of fast and slow turns, rapid direction changes, plentiful off-camber corners and an ultra-rapid main straight. Mugello’s complexities are further heightened by a bumpy surface, which, combined with numerous adverse-camber corners, makes front-tyre choice particularly crucial.Honda has enjoyed great premier-class success at Mugello, first with the NSR500 two-stroke, then with the RCV four-stroke. Honda’s Mugello NSR winners are Freddie Spencer (1985), Mick Doohan (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998), Loris Capirossi (2000) and Alex Barros (2001).
Valentino Rossi won the 2002 and 2003 races on his RC211V.The Mugello event has become one of the most popular GPs since it joined the calendar full-time in 1991, first as the San Marino round and then as the Italian GP. The circuit hosted its first bike GP in 1976 but only became a regular venue after total refurbishment in the early 1990s.After Mugello the MotoGP World Championship has one weekend off before going into a frantic run of three races on consecutive weekends: the British GP on June 20, the Dutch TT on June 26 and the Catalan GP on July 4.HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTESRepsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso says: “We’re arriving at Mugello in a good situation. Two weeks ago at Le Mans I was able to ride fast, we had a good race and I ended up with a great podium finish – plus we were quite close to the two Yamahas. I think that if I had been able to qualify further forward, we could have got an even better result. So that result has set us up well for Mugello which is a very special track for me. The circuit is really fascinating to ride – it’s so challenging and demanding to get right and this is what makes it so appealing. Plus the support of the Italian fans is incredible. I like everything here: the people, the circuit, Tuscany, Firenze, the food… I really look forward to racing at Mugello. It’s also a special appointment also for my fans gathered at the Casanova Savelli turns, so I’ll do everything I can to put on a good show for them this weekend.”Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says: “Mugello is one of the circuits you always look forward to because the atmosphere is incredible. It’s very similar to Spain, people are very passionate, the viewing areas are normally full from the first day of practice and it helps you to get quickly in the mood for the Grand Prix. We will have to work hard this weekend, for sure, but we are very motivated to improve on the final result we got in France. We are working well with the team, adapting the bike to get the best package possible for each track, and we need to get it absolutely right for the race. I hope we can do that in Italy. This season we go there in much better shape than last year and that’s important because Mugello is a physically demanding track to ride, especially in the fast direction changes. The strategy for the weekend is simply to be totally focused and get the maximum out of every session.”LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet says: “I like Mugello very much but I have never obtained a good result there in the premier class so far.
Last year I finished the race in eighth position in strange conditions but I feel more confident this year on this bike. There’s the longest straight of the season and you need to have a really good bike set up to exit the last corner because during the race you can easily get passed by other riders. We will fix the engine mapping to be as fast as possible and we will keep on working in the same direction because our target is to maintain the sixth place in the World Championship.”Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: “I am happy to be going to Mugello with a more positive mentality than recent races. I had a good race at Le Mans and now I am sure we have the right base to start with at Mugello and can continue to work well. I love this circuit and your home Grand Prix is always a special occasion. Hopefully the weather stays stable, at least for practice so that we can work well and prepare for the race, whatever the conditions are on Sunday. I am feeling positive and looking forward to racing at a circuit I like, with its changes in pace and fast corners and all the fans banked around the circuit – it is a unique and fantastic place.”Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: “Mugello is upon us and considering the fact that I could have come away with a much better result at Le Mans than I did I am confident about this one. We made a few changes to the bike in France after warm-up but in the race they didn’t seem to work – maybe it was because of the higher temperatures. It was a shame because I’m sure I could have made up a few more positions but I’m thinking positive and looking forward to being even faster this Sunday. I have always liked Mugello a lot – I won there in 2008 and last year in the rain I had a close battle with Pasini but unfortunately lost out at the line. Seeing all the people on the hillsides gives you an extra boost to do well. “Interwetten Honda MotoGP rider Hiroshi Aoyama says: “Mugello is one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar. For me, this track is not very easy. It is a difficult and technically special track. You need to have a really good experience to be up at the front at Mugello. Anyway, I like the circuit. At Le Mans I improved on my performance from the race before, but I want to be better again and to keep improving. I know that we have the potential to be better, so we will try and we will see where we can be.”The following is from Yamaha…The Fiat Yamaha Team head to their home track of Mugello this weekend, which lies just a couple of hours drive south of their European base close to Milan. They arrive in Tuscany flying high at the top of the championship, with Jorge Lorenzo just ahead of Valentino Rossi on points. The riders have three wins and a further three podiums between this season.The 23-year-old Lorenzo is in dominant form, having won the last two races in Spain and France to take his MotoGP win tally to seven since 2008. The Spaniard enjoys the high-speed Mugello circuit, where he won in 2006 on the way to his first 250cc title. He crashed out on his Italian Premier-Class debut in 2008 but in 2009 he recovered from a sighting-lap crash to take a strong second and get a taste of Mugello mayhem from the podium, when the fans traditionally storm onto the track to flood the finish straight.Reigning World Champion Rossi has an unequalled record with his beloved Mugello having won there nine times in fourteen years, which included an extraordinary run of seven consecutive victories to 2008. Last year he had to be content with a slightly different view from the podium in third place but he will be out for win number ten this weekend as he bids to close the gap to his team-mate, which currently stands at nine points.The spectacular Mugello circuit is one of the fastest in the world, with the 1,141m main street tempting the 800cc bikes to speeds of over 320km/h, before braking into the awesome downhill right-hander. The track is also one of the widest on the calendar and boasts some high-speed chicanes and frequent changes of gradient. It generally brings about some superb racing, all played out in the unrivalled atmosphere created by the fanatical Italian fans who throng the hillsides to cheer on their heroes.Jorge Lorenzo – “The best circuit in the world”
“Last year Mugello was one of my best races! I crashed in the warm-up lap, but otherwise it was almost perfect and I was so happy to get on the podium. The sessions and the race were amazing because the weather kept changing. For me, Mugello is the best circuit in the world, joint with Phillip Island. It’s a classic circuit with many ups and downs and an incredible atmosphere. I have had a great start to the season and once again our aim will be to be strong from the first day and get on the podium.”Valentino Rossi – “An incredible place to ride a motorcycle”
“After another rest I hope my shoulder is fully recovered and that I will be back to full strength for Mugello, my home race. We had some problems in Le Mans so we will be working hard from the first session to make sure that we’re back to our best. Mugello is an incredible place to ride a motorcycle, there is nowhere else like it in the world with all the tifosi around the hills and when you go out for the first lap the sound is something amazing. I always look forward to racing there and I hope we will be in good shape this weekend.”Wilco Zeelenberg – “A close team”
“Jorge is riding in a very mature and focused way, and now he goes to Mugello which he loves and which is the home race for many of our team. Our team is very close now and working very well together, Jorge trusts us to make the right decisions for him and we have seen the rewards of this partnership in the first three races. We’re looking forward to Mugello and we will be aiming for the podium once again.”Davide Brivio – “Our home race”
“Mugello is our home race and it’s always fun to go there for all the team. It’s a special place with an incredible atmosphere and all the fans make a huge party. It’s one of Valentino’s best tracks, even though he didn’t win there last year for the first time in years! He’s had some more time to recover from his shoulder now and we will be working hard from the first session in our team to be as strong as possible.”The following is from Ducati…he Ducati MotoGP Team is preparing for the first of two home races this weekend, with the target of making sure both its riders are capable of being competitive on the GP10. So far Casey Stoner has been unable to back up his undoubted pace with the results that truly reflect his talent and the whole team are working to ensure that he can do just that in the Italian Grand Prix.Nicky Hayden is satisfied with the major steps forward he has taken already this season but the American is keen to continue making improvements as he targets a challenge for victories as the year progresses.Supporting Ducati at Mugello this weekend, as every year, will be the thousands of Ducatisti who pack out the grandstand in the Correntaio corner.CASEY STONER, Ducati MotoGP Team
“Obviously Mugello hasn’t come at a positive moment for us but this is our situation and we have to try and look forward, taking things race by race and not worrying too much about the championship. That is what I am most interested in right now and we want to get the bottom of this problem we’re having with the front end. We have a few things to try at Mugello and we will be working as hard as always to achieve our goals. Generally the bike is working well and we have the pace to fight with the guys at the front so it is just a case of continuing to work hard to solve this issue.”NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati MotoGP Team
“I can’t wait to go to Mugello and banish the memory of last year, when I was quite slow in front of the Italian fans and so many people from Ducati. Actually things went better in the race than they had done in practice but then I suffered a problem with my rear brake and the result was anything but good. We’re going into a run of races that could be quite decent for us and we’re confident. Mugello is a circuit that can be really nice to ride or really tough, depending on whether you can get your bike working well and have a good set-up. If you manage that you can have some serious fun. I’m expecting to see a lot of Ducati fans so hopefully I can have fun and they can too.”FILIPPO PREZIOSI, Ducati Corse General Director
“Casey is definitely going through a difficult period but his talent is under no question and we will keep working calmly, as we always do, to try and improve the situation whether it is from a technical perspective like bringing some new forks, which we’ll be doing this weekend, or working on finding the right set-up for the race. As far as Nicky I cannot compliment him highly enough on the way he approached winter testing and the first few races. We are obviously working with him too to make the GP10 better and at Mugello we’ll have a new “link” to try and making the bike more stable in corner exit.”THE TRACK
Measuring 5.245km in length, the Mugello circuit is one of the longest on the current MotoGP calendar and it stands out from other fast tracks thanks to the drastic elevation changes and the high-speed chicanes. The main straight, at 1.141km, is also one of the longest on the calendar and it is followed by a blind rise into the tight turn one, San Donato, where the riders’ speed drops from around 320km/h to less than 100. The front straight is the fastest part of the track, with the rest an exciting mixture of fast sweepers, quick direction changes and long ‘parabolica’ corners, without any tight hairpins or stop-and-go sections to break up the flow. It is perhaps because of this that the Tuscan circuit is one of the riders’ favourites. Mugello hosted its first GP in 1976 but did not become a permanent fixture on the calendar until major reconstruction works took place in the early 90s.