Photography by Gold & Goose

Mugello fans will remember this race for years to come. The Italians have the privilege of saying they were there to watch one of the best one-on-one MotoGP battles in championship history. Honda’s Marc Marquez won for a sixth straight time, but he faced the toughest challenge of his career from Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo.

Lorenzo seemed determined to win at any cost and the last four laps were some of the finest racing MotoGP has to offer with the two great champions passing and repassing one another. Marquez had the power to draft by, but time after time Lorenzo fought back to regain the point in the turns. Only on the final lap was Marquez able to finally make a pass and then manage to hold off relentless pressure by Lorenzo to the flag.

At the finish the margin of victory for Marquez was 0.121 seconds.

Italian fans had additional reason to celebrate because their cherished Valentino Rossi managed to finish on the podium, 2.6 seconds back, in his 300th-career Grand Prix appearance. Hordes of fans flooded the track to get a closer look at their hero and to celebrate his accomplishment.

The victory for Marquez pushed his championship lead to 53 point over Rossi (150-97), who moved past Dani Pedrosa in the standings.  Lorenzo jumped by Andrea Dovizioso to fourth in the points.

Even though Marquez remained undefeated, Lorenzo showed that he plans on given the defending champ a run for his money in the coming rounds.

Dani Pedrosa finished fourth, about 14 seconds behind the leaders, and lost a position in the standings. Pedrosa was followed by Pol Espargaro, who scored his second consecutive top-five finish.

The race started with Andrea Iannone, on the Pramac Ducati, leading the pack into turn one followed by Lorenzo and Marquez. Lorenzo pushed his way to the front and opened up a small gap on Marquez, who took a couple of laps to get by Iannone and not without a fight.

Bradley Smith was an early faller on the Tech 3. Then on lap there was a spectacular crash when Cal Crutchlow fell then his Ducati torpedoed Stefan Bradl, with Bradl crashing hard.

By lap four the leading three had worked free of the field with Lorenzo a half-second ahead of Marquez and Rossi a close third. When Pedrosa got by Iannone the top four were set, with the exception of the epic battle to come between Lorenzo and Marquez.

After Marquez took the checkered flag he was more animated than usual on the cool-down lap, showing his joy of holding off the gritty Lorenzo. He admitted after the race that this one of his toughest races.

“I’m really happy,” the smiling Marquez said. “I think this was the toughest race of this year. I struggled, especially in the beginning. OK, maybe I was stronger on the brake points, but Jorge was always strong in the mid-corner.  He was able to keep high speed and in the beginning I was struggling quite a lot, but then with the used tires I start to feel again like in the practice. And in the warm-up we did a small change with the sixth gear and with that everything was perfect. I was able to overtake him there on the straightaway with his gear, with that change. I’m very happy also for the team because they dared to change that, with the gear. I’m happy for that and now I enjoy the moment. Now we go to home track (Catalunya). Of course it will be a difficult race, but we will try to fight for another victory.”

For Lorenzo, surprisingly it marked only his second podium of the season. He seemed encouraged by the result.

“It was a very funny race,” he said. “When I am strong I feel strong there is more ways to fight with him, the bike seems very well on the braking, better than ever. We need a little more top speed, because on the straight ever little 10th (of a second) I take on the corner I lose it on the straight. With probably three or four kilometers probably I can do more for this position. In a way Marquez was very brave on braking and fighting with me. I tried my best. This time I couldn’t, but I think victory can arrive soon.”

Rossi soaked up the appreciation by the Italian fans.

“It is always a great emotion, the podium in Mugello with the crowd,” Rossi said. “Already from this morning it was great around the track with all the people.  Today I think was a great day for MotoGP. The track is fantastic and good weather and also a great race between Marc and Jorge. Unfortunately during the practice we made some mistakes and I had to start from the fourth row. I knew it was difficult. In the first lap I was lucky and fast to come back. I had already more than one second when I arrived behind Marc. And for all the race I try and try, but no way, especially because I lose on the last section. But I’m happy because it is a good level. I go fast for all the race and I always see Jorge and Marc. It is another podium and another good points for sure. I want to try to make better, but from fourth row is OK.”

American Colin Edwards scored world championship points for the second time this season in 15th on the NGM forward Racing Yamaha.

The series next moves to Catalunya on June 15.

Mugello MotoGP results – June 1, 2014
1.
Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 41m 38.254s
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 41m 38.375s
3. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 41m 40.942s
4. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 41m 52.300s
5. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 41m 53.857s
6. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 41m 55.296s
7. Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 41m 55.383s
8. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 42m 5.661s
9. Aleix Espargaro ESP NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 42m 20.140s
10. Yonny Hernandez COL Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 42m 23.466s
11. Michele Pirro ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 42m 23.687s
12. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) 42m 24.085s
13. Scott Redding GBR Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 42m 24.093s
14. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 42m 25.088s
15. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 42m 47.808s
16. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 42m 56.043s
17. Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 43m 13.285s
18. Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing (Avintia) 43m 15.755s

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