Mugello MotoGP Results 2019 (Updated)

Michael Scott | June 2, 2019

Mugello MotoGP Results 2019

Sunday

Danilo Petrucci fulfilled the dream of a lifetime in Italy on Sunday, claiming an unforgettable first grand prix victory at his home circuit, on a Ducati, fighting off the persistent attentions of the best rider in the world at the thrilling climax of the best and closest race of the year.

Mugello MotoGP Results 2019

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In MotoGP action at Mugello, Danilo Petrucci fulfilled the dream of a lifetime in Italy on Sunday, claiming an unforgettable first grand prix victory at his home circuit. Here he is center on the podium alongside Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso, who finished second and third respectively. (Gold & Goose photo)

The Mission Winnow Ducati rider not only defeated team-mate Andrea Dovizioso but also had to fend off the fiercest of final attacks from championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).

He succeeded by just 0.043 of a second, after the three of them sandwiched together through the first corner, where Marquez had taken a short-lived lead on the way in.

Dovizioso was the loser in that encounter, missing his own chance, and having to fight off the hard-pressing Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) as he claimed third, still just two tenths adrift.

The first four were across the line in just over half a second, after just short of 42 minutes of relentless hand-to-hand combat. Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) had also been part of the group, but crashed out straight after setting fastest lap, on the 16th of 23 laps.

In fact the front gang had been even bigger. At half-distance, the top 12 were covered by barely three seconds.

Conditions were hot, making tyre preservation an important factor, and punishing both Petrucci and Marquez, who were still recovering from ‘flu attacks.

“It’s unbelievable, in the best place in the world,” said Petrucci. “I have to thank my family and my team, and also Andrea Dovizioso for helping me through the winter. He helped me like a brother, opened the door of his house, and gave me all the secrets. I am sorry that I beat him today.”

Marquez was happy with second. “It was a race to defend, so I stayed calm for the last lap. Unfortunately I missed the apex into the first corner, and they both attacked me. But I am happy with 20 points here.”

Dovi was of course disappointed to be third. “I did the right overtakes in the right time, but unfortunately you saw what happened in that corner. I had to pick the bike up and I lost the position. That was the bad part of the race. But I am happy for Ducati and for Danilo. He needed that result for his future.” (Petrucci is fighting to stay in the factory team.)

Rins’s fourth was another strong ride, underlined by a fierce attack in the early laps after starting from the fourth row of the grid. He joined the leading group after only five laps.

His last victim had been Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda); who was left to fend off the on-form Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati), until the Italian crashed out on the 12th lap.

Crutchlow would continue to lose ground, dropping to eighth in the closing laps. By the finish his team-mate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) had taken fifth, staying a second ahead of Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha), through after finishing the first lap 12th after another poor start.

Ducati test rider Michele Pirro took seventh, passing Crutchlow on the final lap.

Pol Espargaro was a lone ninth, a second successive top ten for the Red Bull KTM. Front-row starter Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) dropped to tenth by the end; with the rest of the points going to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), Joan Mir (Suzuki), Jorge Lorenzo (Honda), Karel Abraham (Ducati) and Andrea Iannone (Aprilia).

It was a nightmare race for crowd favourite Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha), starting off with a lowly 18th-position start. He was mired with the backmarkers, and then dropped to last after a gravel run-off after a collision with Joan Mir’s Suzuki. He was still last when he fell off on lap eight.

Marquez had the consolation of extending his points lead, 116 to Dovi on 103; then Rins 88, Petrucci 82 and Rossi 72.

MOTO2 Race – 21 laps, 110.145 km

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Alex Marquez scored the Moto2 victory in Italy. (It looks like his brother Marc is happy about it. Gold & Goose photo)

Alex Marquez made it two in a row for the first time since 2014 in Moto3, starting from the front row to take control of the Moto2 race after eight laps, then breaking the pursuit to get a lead of better than two seconds not long after half distance.

The EG-VDS rider headed an all-Kalex top six at the scenic circuit, and was able to relax by the finish to win by 1.9 seconds, having set a new lap record on the second lap.

“Here was a bit more easy than Le Mans,” he said. “We are in a good moment, and we need to keep the momentum.”

Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) had been the early leader, but the Swiss rider, suffering a stomach infection along with a lack of tyre grip, said “It was impossible to attack today.”

That meant when Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) closed at half distance, Rossi’s half-brother was able to slip cleanly past at the Casanova-Savelli corner set for his firstxxx podium of the year.

Pole starter Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex) had been Marini’s first victim on lap six. Still carrying foot injuries, Schrotter continued to lose places behind a strong four-bike battle for fourth, which intensified as the laps wore down.

At the finish, triple 2019 race winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) managed to stay ahead, while team-mate Augusto Fernandez snatched fifth from rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex) on the run to the line. Seventh-placed Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) had started the lap in front of both of them.

With Schrotter safe in eighth, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Kalex) survived in ninth.

Second Speed Up rider Fabio di Giannantonio was a strong tenth, coming through from the back after being involved in a first-lap tangle that eliminated Iker Lecuona and also delayed Xavi Vierge (12th) and Remy Gardner (13th).

Baldassari retained a shrinking points lead over Marquez, 88 points to 86. Luthi (84) is a close third, then Navarro (73) and Schrotter (64).

MOTO3 Race – 20 laps, 104.9 km

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Italian fans were happy that one of their own, Tony Arbolino (No. 14), scored the win in Moto3 at Mugello. (Gold & Goose photo)

Italian teenager Tony Arbolino played the slipstreaming ghost to claim a first GP win in the first race of the day at Mugello.

The Moto3 Snipers Honda rider had started from pole, and came onto the final straight behind the erstwhile dominant rider of a huge pack, Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda).

Dalla Porta seemed to have it in the bag, until Arbolino ducked out of the draft to lead him over the line by just 0.029 of a second.

Spaniard Jaume Masia (Bester Capital KTM) was third, coming through from the back of a huge pack that had been 14 strong after half-distance, before a couple of crashes split them up.

There were still eight glued together, first to eighth over the line within six tenths of a second.

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Honda) came through to fourth after starting from the sixth row following a post-qualifying penalty, setting fastest lap (just short of a new record) on the way through.

Dennis Foggia (SKY VR46 KTM) was fifth, then Le Mans winner John McPhee (Petronas Honda – also through from the sixth row), Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda).

A second adrift Celestino Vietti (SKY VR46 KTM) and earlier if briefly leader Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power KTM) completed the top ten.

Arbolino was the 11th different Moto3 winner in 11 races, and the title chase remains as close: Canet (83) still leading from Dalla Porta (80); then Antonelli (70), Masia (65) and Vietti (42).

Saturday

Defending champion and points leader Marc Marquez played his last card perfectly at Mugello to claim his fourth pole of the season and the 84th in his career. He did it to the discomfort of title rival Andrea Dovizioso.

Mugello MotoGP Results 2019

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At Mugello, Marc Marquez rode his Repsol Honda to his fourth pole position of the season. (Gold & Goose photo)

The Winnnow Ducati rider, fighting through from Q1, had inadvertently slowed Marquez in the Repsol Honda rider’s first run. Pitting for fresh tyres, Marquez “found a good space, calculated so well the space behind Dovi”, and used the Ducati’s slipstream to set an all-time record for the picturesque Mugello circuit.

Dovi doubtless knew he was there, but couldn’t afford to slow down, as it was his last chance to get himself higher than 12th on the grid.

That record had already been broken in the morning by second Mission Winnow Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci, then smashed once more by dazzling rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha), who was on pole two races ago in Spain. It had been 1m 46.208, set last year when Rossi took pole. By the end of today, it was 1m 45.519.

Quartararo ended up second, saying: “There are a few tracks that for me it would be amazing to do well, and this is one of them.” It will be only his sixth race in the premier class.

Petrucci was third, describing a difficult afternoon, with a hotter track stripping away the grip. His other problem was his health – his ‘flu was a day or two younger than Marquez’s, and his recovery a little behind. “I am not fit, but tomorrow I will try my hardest anyway.”

The other big story of the afternoon concerned multi-Mugello winner Valentino Rossi, on pole here in 2016 and 2018. Struggling all weekend and slowest of the four Yamahas, his factory Monster bike will start tomorrow from 18th, the sixth row of the grid, his worst qualifying since Aragon last year.

His protégé Franco Morbidelli was fourth on the second satellite Petronas Yamaha, heading the second row from Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).

1’45.519

Row three will be led by Monster Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales,

from yesterday’s free practice leader, rookie Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati).

Dovizioso made it to ninth at the far end of the row; troubled all weekend with a bike “I cannot ride as I like”.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) was tenth, ahead of the again on-form Pol Espargaro on the top Red Bull KTM, and ahead of Ducati test rider Michele Pirro, who had followed Dovi through from Q1.

Also left languishing out of the top 12 was Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki), who had earlier been set to go through until Dovi consigned him to third. It might have been different had the rising Spaniard not mistimed his final run, crossing the line to start it just after the chequered flag.

The same thing happened to Rossi, another row down. Rins had Tito Rabat (Avintia Ducati) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) alongside; then Karel Abraham (Avintia Ducati) led row six from a disappointed Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) and Rossi.

Struggling new KTM rider Johann Zarco led the seventh row, suffering yet another crash during qualifying.

 

 

Moto2

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The track best-lap record was smashed also in Moto2, where Marcel Schrotter ran a time of 1m 51.129s. (Gold & Goose photo)

The track best-lap record was smashed also in Moto2, where Marcel Schrotter ran a time of 1m 51.129 after the finishing flag for the Q2 session. This pushed his Dynavolt Intact Kalex team-mate Thomas Luthi to second by four hundredths of a second.

Schrotter is still struggling with foot injuries, but pronounced himself ready to fight; while Luthi courteously praised him for securing a team one-two.

French GP winner Alex Marquez was less than two tenths down in third on the EG-VDS Kalex, with times close enough to put the top 17 inside the same second.

Nicolo Bulega made it another Kalex in fourth, the SKY VR46 rider narrowly ahead of Jorge Navarro on the ever-threatening Speed Up chassis. Him aside, the top eleven were all riding Kalexes, with the next best Luca Marini (SKY VR46) completing the second row.

The third comprised Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX), Sam Lowes (FederaOils) and Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP40); with Australia’s Remy Gardner (ONEXOX) completing the top ten.

The only KTM in Q2’s top 18 was rookie Jorge Martin, leaving Red Bull team-mate Brad Binder a disgruntled 19th. Title leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) narrowly got through from Q1, but ended up 15th, at the far end of row five.

 

Moto3

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Tony Arbolino celebrates after scoring the Mugello pole in Moto3. (Gold & Goose photo)

A typically tactical Q2 session for Moto3 rewarded Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) with a last-gasp third pole position, but punished Le Mans winner John McPhee (Petronas Honda), who was 18th and last, after waiting until the last five minutes of the 15-minute session before going out.

Arbolino headed an all-Honda front row, with a new circuit outright record of 1m 56.407.

Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini) was an impressive second, albeit six tenths down, but securing the position lapping alone, with no benefit of a slipstream. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) was third.

The top KTM was Andrea Migno’s Bester Capital bike, the former Mugello winner through from Q1. He consigned the early-session leaders Tatsuki Suzuki and Niccolo Antonelli (both SIC58 Honda) to fifth and sixth. Romano Fenati (Snipers Honda) was seventh, then Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) and another man up from Q1, Leopard Honda’s Marcos Ramirez.

Points leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) rounded out the top ten … but with possible penalties to come overnight for Suzuki and Antonelli (for leaving pit lane early) and also Ramirez (obstructive riding), and possibly others, the final grid might be different.

Moto3 Qualifying Mugello 2019

Saturday News

More Ducati Aero Experiments

Ducati’s latest aerodynamic enigma – a lower-rear-quadrant back wheel shield – was more in evidence on the second day at Mugello, with factory rider Danilo Petrucci exercising the add-on, which yesterday only test rider Michele Pirro had used.

Asked about the difference, the ever-humorous Italian said there was none. “It is only because the bike looks more aggressive.”

Enlarging, he continued: “Ducati never tell us the purpose of modifications.” Doing so might plant preconceptions that would sully riders’ feedback.

But the effect was in any case, “very slight”.

Petrucci used it to be the first to break the track’s best-lap record in the morning, but alarmingly TV cameras seemed to spot it coming loose.

Dovizioso had said he wouldn’t try it during the weekend, but team boss Davide Tardozzi said that he would possibly do so on race day.

New MotoGP Top Speed Record of 221.6 mph for Dovi

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Andrea Dovizioso recorded the fastest top speed ever in MotoGP on Saturday at Mugello. (Gold & Goose photo)

Andrea Dovizioso set a new maximum speed record for MotoGP on Saturday morning, with a trap speed of 356.7 km/h (221.6 mph) fractionally faster than the 356.5 he recorded here last year.

Mugello and the next track at Catalunya regularly have the highest top speeds, Our so that small aerodynamic improvements have the biggest effect, underlining the potential value of Ducati’s rear-wheel cover … although Dovizioso was not using it.

However, Honda’s next aero step will wait until after these two races are done, according to Repsol team manager Alberto Puig. Asked about an expected new fairing, he said: “Our target it to introduce it after Montmelo,” venue for the Catalan GP.

New Michelins More Durable

Race strategy has changed again, with the improved durability of Michelin’s current race tyres. So says Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti.

“The latest tyres have almost the same performance for all the race,” he told Dorna. “The riders don’t have to go slower for the first two-thirds of the race”, to save the tyre for the final showdown.

This is different from last year, when several races were artificially close for this reason; and it seems Marquez was quickest to take advantage of it, galloping away from the start in the USA (albeit stopped by a crash), Argentina, Jerez and Le Mans.

It’s born out by the number of fastest laps later in races: at Qatar Marquez, Crutchlow and Petrucci all did their best on lap 18 of 22; at Jerez Marquez on lap 25 of 25, and Dovi the lap before.

The difference, a Michelin spokesman confirmed, was in new technology introduced to rear-tyre compounds, improving grip and consistency. It had been used

only on the Medium option in 2018, but after pre-season testing was made available also in Soft and Hard compounds this year.

Rossi’s Mugello Helmet Version 2019

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Valentino Rossi always has a special helmet for Mugello. Here’s this year’s version. (Gold & Goose photo)

Crowd favourite Valentino Rossi’s traditional special Mugello helmet was relatively restrained this year. Eschewing previous essays into narrative cartoons or ironic caricatures, Rossi’s special lid was based on the Italian red-white-and-green “Tricolore” flag. Rather than slabs of colour, however, the three colours were rendered in softly-striped brushstrokes.

Previous Mugello iterations have included a rendition of his terrified face on the front of the helmet, indicating the tension of braking from around 200mph at the end of the straight, as well as cartoons of his personal heroes.

Friday

It was Rookies’ Day again on the first day of free practice for Sunday’s Italian GP. But this time it wasn’t Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) topping the table at the sunny Mugello circuit. Honours went instead to reigning Moto2 champion Pecco Bagnaia, on a year-old Pramac Ducati.

Mugello MotoGP Results 2019

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It was a great opening day at Mugello for Moto2 champion Pecco Bagnaia. He topped the MotoGP charts Friday on a year-old Pramac Ducati. (Gold & Goose photo)

The lead changed hands four times in the closing two minutes of the afternoon FP2 session, with the usual top guns consigned to the role of spectators as first Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) took to the top, then Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati), then Quartararo (always precociously fast on a single laps) before Bagnaia edged ahead by just 0.046 of a second.

Times were typically very close, with 18 within one second of Bagnaia’s 1m 46.732, which was almost a full second inside the race lap record, and only half-a-second short of the all-time fastest lap.

But with the fine dry conditions expected to last all weekend, everyone will get another chance to secure a place in the top ten going straight into Q2. Currently not in the frame: Andrea Dovizioso, Michele Pirro (both Team Winnow Ducati), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), 18th-fastestValentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha) and Jorge Lorenzo, in 20th on the Repsol Honda.

Pol Espargaro ended up fourth fastest, a couple of tenths down, but handsomely the top KTM. Next-best was factory Red Bull team-mate Johann Zarco; while satellite-team riders Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira languished in the last two places, 22nd and 23rd.

Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) was fifth fastest, nosing ahead of morning-session leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda.

Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) put in a late-session run to place seventh, consigning Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) to eighth; Jack Miller’s bid for the top ended in the gravel as the Pramac Ducati rider ran wide and off the track avoiding a collision with another rider.

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) was tenth; less than a tenth ahead of Dovizioso.

Moto2

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Valentino Rossi’s half-brother Luca Marini was fastest in Moto2 on Friday. (Gold & Goose photo)

Positions shuffled also at the climax of the Moto2 session, but it was the same name at the top morning and afternoon – Rossi’s half-brother Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex).

As in MotoGP, 18 riders were in the first second, and most of them were on Kalexes, with Jorge Navarro’s Speed Up a strong sixth, and the top KTM ridden by rookie Jorge Martin in seventh.

Marini’s 1m 51.986 deposed Thomas Luthi from top spot in the closing minutes by just eight thousandths of a second. They were inside the race lap record, but still short of the track’s all-time best lap.

Less than two tenths down, last year’s pole man and 2017 winner Mattia Pasini (Petronas Kalex) was ahead of Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex), with rookie Nicolo Bulega (SKY VR46 Kalex) fifth from Navarro.

Martin (Red Bull KTM)led two fellow class rookies, with Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex) eighth and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Speed Up) ninth in the afternoon session … but Le Mans winner Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) was eighth on combined times on his morning time: a crash in the afternoon meant he lost the chance to improve. Veteran Simone Corsi (Tasca Kalex) was 11th overall.

Remy Gardner (OneXOX Kalex) survived several scares to place 12th, ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM). Points leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) was 18th.

Moto3

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Tatsuki Suzuki bested the Moto3 field on Friday at Mugello. (Gold & Goose photo)

Moto3 afternoon times were faster than the morning, but still almost a second down on the lap record but, as with the other two classes, the top 18 within a second, in spite of a lap time of almost two minutes.

SIC58 Honda rider Tatsuki Suzuki was on top, at 1m 57.467, less than four hundredths ahead of Italian wild card Kevin Zannone, only his third GP on the all-independent Italian-made TM.

Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) was third, at the head of a pack of six more Hondas, before tenth-placed Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) on the top KTM.

Niccolo Antonelli SIC58) wad fourth from John McPhee (Petronas), both race winners this year; Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG Kommerling Gresini) sixth.

Then Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas), Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) and Romano Fenati (Snipers) ahead of Binder.

Points leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) was 12th; second-placed Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) 14th after losing time with a crash.

Friday News

Petrucci and Miller in competition

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Danilo Petrucci (pictured) is in competition with Jack Miller for a factory Ducati seat in 2020. (Gold & Goose photo)

Once again, former Pramac Ducati team-mates Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller will be racing each other on Sunday, as the pair vie for the second factory Ducati seat alongside Dovizioso for 2020.

With almost all other riders on two-year contracts, as long as things remain equal this is the only full-factory ride on the cards. Naturally the Italian and the Australian are both made keen on it.

Ducati team chief Paolo Ciabatti confirmed today that a decision between the pair is imminent, but not before this and the next GP in Catalunya in two weeks.

“We are not in a hurry – and we wanted to wait a little bit before we have a meeting to decide. But it is also important for the riders to know.”

The choice is not straightforward. Both riders are in good form, currently fifth and sixth in the championship. Petrucci is 15 points ahead, but round five two weeks ago at Le Mans, where he was third to Miller’s fourth, was the first time he’d actually beaten the Australian. But Miller has twice no-scored: in Qatar where his seat came adrift early in the race, and after a crash at Jerez.

Should the factory decide to reward Petrucci’s loyal support of Dovi, Miller will still again get the latest factory bike at the satellite team. At the same time, his current team-mate there, rookie Pecco Bagnaia, has also been promised a GP20, which would put the Pramac team technically on a level with the official team.

Injuries Slow Asian Invasion

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Moto3 rookie Ai Ogura, with one top ten among three debut-season finishes in the points, was out after suffering hand injuries. (Gold & Goose photo)

The return of fast Japanese riders after a decade or more in abeyance was slightly interrupted in Italy, with one of the new brigade missing injured, alongside another of the rising tide from South-East Asia.

Moto3 rookie Ai Ogura, with one top ten among three debut-season finishes in the points, was out after suffering hand injuries in a Le Mans race crash; while in Moto2 Thai rider Somkiat Chantra joined Malaysian Khairul Idham Pawi on the absentee list. Chantra suffered a left foot fracture at Le Mans; Pawi’s bad hand injuries came the race before at Jerez.

The Japanese revival, which has also brought new faces from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, is largely the consequence of the Honda-backed Shell Asia Talent Cup, equivalent of the Red Bull Rookies series in Europe.

Although former Moto2 race winner Takaaki Nakagami, currently going strong on the LCR Honda, is the only representative in MotoGP, there are four riders in Moto2, with Japan’s Tetsuta Nagashima the highest-placed after a career-best seventh in Spain.

In Moto3, Kaito Toba took his first win in the opening round in Qatar; while Tatsuki Suzuki’s several spells leading races were finally rewarded with second at Jerez. Three more Japanese full-timers and for this race an additional wild card swelled the ranks in the smallest class.

With Mattia Pasini continuing to replace Pawi, Chantra’s place in Italy was taken by first-timer Teppei Nagoe from Japan; while Indonesian Gerry Salim took over Ogura’s Moto3 Honda.

Aero Comes into Play at Mugello

With generally the highest top speeds of the season … and the thrilling end-of-straight jump, Mugello puts a special emphasis on aerodynamics, and in MotoGP it showed.

Nowhere more clearly than on the factory Aprilia, with a brand-new biplane fairing, taking up the option of a single modification for the year.

According to the team, this improved stability without affecting top speed, and lead rider Aleix Espargaro managed to place an impressive fifth in morning free practice, in spite of losing time after a flaming top-speed blow-up forced him to park his bike.

At Yamaha the move was in the opposite direction, with the latest aerodyne shelved in favour of the original more slippery fairing. Apparently to little effect, with the bikes still lagging at the end of the straight.

Team manager Massimo Meregalli confirmed the problem, and that with engine design frozen for the season, they were stuck with it. “We expect Mugello, Brno and Catalunya will be difficult tracks for us,” he said.

Typically Ducati left rivals scratching their heads, with another somewhat puzzling innovation on test-rider Michele Pirro’s Desmosedici – side-plates in carbon-fibre covering the lower rear quadrant of the rear wheel.

Enigmatically, he was testing these in the morning, but without the similar and already familiar front-wheel side-plates.

At the end of the first day, top speed figures from the faster afternoon session showed that Rossi on the fastest Yamaha was almost 10 km/h down on Dovizioso on the fastest Ducati, at 340.4 km/h to 349.9; while Crutchlow on the fastest Honda (behind five Ducatis) ran 344.6. However, top speed is not everything. The fastest time was set by Pecco Bagnaia, whose Ducati top speed of 340.3 put him only 17th in the flat-out league.

Dovi Set to Join Exclusive Club

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Andrea Dovizioso is set to become the third member of the 300 MotoGP starts club on Sunday. (Gold & Goose photo)

Andrea Dovizioso is set to become the third member of the 300 club on Sunday, joining Valentino Rossi and Loris Capirossi in clocking up 300 GP starts.

He still has a little catching up to do, however, with Rossi moving on towards a record 400, if he starts every race this year. Capirossi, the first to reach the 300 milestone, retired at the end of 2011 with 328.

But Dovi does have a personal record. Since his debut in the 125 class in the Italian GP in 2001, he has not missed a single race. Always free from injury, there has never been any World Champion in modern times as reliable.

In his 19 seasons, Dovi took the 125 title in 2004, and has four times been title runner up. With 22 wins and 95 podiums, he has only finished out of the points four times, with only 36 non-finishes. That’s an 88-percent finishing record, and a 98.6-percent points record in those finishes.

Rossi is the most seasoned of all riders, preparing to line up for his 389th start on Sunday; Jorge Lorenzo is next on 288. After that, Alex Barros retired in xxxx after 276 starts; while Giacomo Agostini clocked up 223 and Angel Nieto 186.

Of the active riders, Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone are the most experienced, making their 236th and 234th starts on Sunday; in Moto2 it’s Thomas Luthi (273) and Simone Corsi (268), and Jakub Kornfeil is easily the most seasoned Moto3 rider, getting ready for start number 169.

Zannoni with strong performance

TM made an impressive debut in Moto3 with Kevin Zannoni at the controls. (Gold & Goose photo)

The Honda-KTM duopoly in Moto3 may be coming under threat, with an impressive debut from Italian manufacturer TM. Wild card entry Kevin Zannoni, in only his third GP.

The 18-year-old Italian, currently making hay in the national CIV championship, ended up second-fastest, just 0.039 of a second behind the top time set by Tatsuki Suzuki’s Honda.

TM are best known for off-road bikes, but have made strides in developing the four-stroke Moto3 bike since the same rider finished last, a lap down, on its single debut at a wet Misano last year. He had however qualified 18th for that race.

50 Years of Repsol Support

A special exhibition in Barcelona next week brings together riders, bikes and cars to celebrate Repsol’s 50th anniversary as a motorsport sponsor.

There will be more than 20 bikes and cars on show at the city’s famous Passeig de Gracia from June 6-15. As well as several riders and drivers on the opening day, racing vehicles used by Angel Nieto, Mick Doohan, Pedro Martínez de la Rosa, Marc Coma, Nani Roma, Toni Bou, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez, among others, will be part of the exhibition, which runs through to the Catalan GP in a fortnight.

Lambos for Pramac riders

Jack Miller was back in a Lamborghini at Mugello, along with four of his Pramac fellow teamsters, as the Ducati-owning car company added their sponsorship (and a special yellow-and-black livery) to the team.

Miller had a Lambo also at the GP of the Americas in Texas earlier this year.

The team had two supercars – a Huracan and an Aventador – to play with, plus three of the cross-over Urus SUVs.

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Michael Scott | MotoGP Editor Scott has been covering MotoGP since long before it was MotoGP. Remember two-strokes? Scott does. He’s also a best-selling author of biographies on the lives of legendary racers such as Wayne Rainey and Barry Sheene.

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