Photography by Gold & Goose
Chaos was happening behind him at Mugello, but Jorge Lorenzo got away on his factory Yamaha early and stayed above the fray to earn his second MotoGP victory of the season and close to within 12 points of series leader Dani Pedrosa, who finished second. Cal Crutchlow ran to yet another strong third-place, his second podium result of the season.
There was a great deal of drama happening behind Lorenzo. On the first lap Mugello crowd favorite Valentino Rossi was caught out by a run in with Alvaro Bautista a few turns into the race and both crashed. Then more drama late when second-place runner Marc Marquez low-sided on a fast left-hand turn at the end of downhill esses. He rose up from the crash shaking his fist in the air in frustration for what could be classified as a rookie mistake.
The race started with Pedrosa getting a great start and moving to the lead, but he ran just a tad wide through turn giving Lorenzo the lane to go inside and power out of the turn in the lead. Marquez from sixth on the grid to right up on his Honda teammate, but wasn’t able to follow Lorenzo through. From there it was a chase between the three championship rivals up front. Within a few laps Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha’ s Crutchlow was a few seconds back in fourth.
Going into the next set of turns Bautista and Rossi came together and the two ran off the track and crashed after their impact and went into air fence covered barriers. You could nearly hear a collective gasp of the Italian fans. It was a hard hit. Bautista was up quickly, but Rossi looked groggy when being helped up by the marshals.
Up front it quickly turned into a three-way race for the win with Lorenzo leading Pedrosa and Marquez. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was on the move, the German passing the Ducati pair of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso in the span of two laps to move into fifth.
Another notable ride was being turned in by CRT rider Aleix Espargaro, who moved into eighth on his ART. Tech 3 rookie Bradley Smith was riding inside the top ten in spite of having just injured his left hand and wrist.
For the first half of the race it appeared that Pedrosa was simply playing the waiting game behind Lorenzo, but he would later revel he was pushing hard and his rear tire was taking a beating. Just past the halfway point Lorenzo bore down to try to get away and he was successful, building a two second lead in just a few laps. From there Lorenzo pulled away to secure the race.
“I knew this was going to be a very hard race,” said Lorenzo, who scored his third straight victory at Mugello. “The weather became much, much hotter this morning. I kept trying and trying and Dani wasn’t falling behind. He was following me for about 15 laps, but in 15 I push a little bit more. I was about 2-10ths faster and it seems he gave up a little bit and it was much more easy from then.”
Things heated up between the factory Honda pair. Marquez stayed on the gas longer than Pedrosa going through a set of esses and squirted into the lead. It was a remarkable performance for the rookie who just two days earlier had crashed at 175 mph.
Unfortunately Marquez went out with two laps to go, running hot into a turn and sliding off the track. It marked the first time the rookie finished off the podium. Pedrosa found himself alone in a distant second and Crutchlow, who was making a push to try to get on the podium, seemed to relax when he realized he was assured third.
In the closing laps Dovizioso and Bradl on the last lap with Bradl getting the nod for fourth by about 2-10ths of a second. It matched the German’s best ever MotoGP result.
Hayden was a lonely sixth, while another Ducati rider Michele Pirro edged Esparago for seventh. Smith, recovered from running off the track to take ninth and Hector Barbera rounded out the top ten. Colin Edwards in 14th, scored championship points for his second straight race on the FTR Kawasaki.
Pedrosa’s second was good enough to hold on the points lead. The pole winner revealed why he wasn’t able to hang with the leader in the second half of the race.
“Today it was a hard race because I didn’t have the pace really on the weekend,” Pedrosa explained. “We struggled a lot with the tire. We didn’t have good grip. We had to change the bike a lot for the race during the weekend. It wasn’t the perfect setup. As soon as the tire began to lose grip I had some problems. I was pushing hard in the braking to catch up, but obviously I pushed too hard on the tire, so at the end always the front was on the limit. To finish second on a day like today is so good. So, thanks to the team. I’m happy.”
For Crutchlow it was a solid performance in spite of not feeling well.
“It’s great to be up here on the podium,” Crutchlow said. “Mugello is such a famous circuit; it’s nice to be able to reward my team with a podium. In all honesty we were coming at the end. I hate to take a gifted podium, but with Marc crashing out it made it a little bit easier. I thought I could have put in a really good challenge for the podium anyway. On the last ten laps we were really coming on strong for the two guys in front. As soon as Marc crashed I eased up a little and let Dani finish second because there was no sense losing some championship points to push too hard. It was a great way to bounce back from yesterday. I’ve been struggling a little bit with an allergy all weekend. I couldn’t see yesterday and made a stupid crash. In the race I struggled a little bit with breathing, but this is a great way to cap off a great couple of weeks and we can go to Barcelona with decent hopes again.”
The series moves to Catalunya on June 16.
Italian Grand Prix results, June 2, 2013
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yam).
2. Dani Pedrosa (Hon).
3. Cal Crutchlow Yam).
4. Stefan Bradl (Hon).
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Duc).
6. Nicky Hayden (Duc).
7. Michele Pirro (Duc).
8. Aleix Espargaro (ART).
9. Bradley Smith (Yam).
10. Hector Barbera (FTR).
14. Colin Edwards (FTR).
1. Pedrosa, 103.
2. Lorenzo, 91.
3. Marquez, 77.
4. Crutchlow, 71.
5. Dovizioso, 50.